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Proliferation could hamper Macron’s chances of re-election

French President Emmanuel Macron.

LOIC VENANCE AFP | Getty images

LONDON – France is currently lagging far behind other European countries with the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine, which could potentially damage the chances of re-election of President Emmanuel Macron.

As of Friday, 80,000 French citizens have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. By comparison, neighboring Germany has made hundreds of thousands of inoculations.

The success or failure of vaccinating the population is likely to shape the political debate as the campaign for the 2022 presidential race heats up in the coming months.

“Although the 2022 presidential election still looks a long way off, President Macron is certainly worried that a poorly executed vaccine distribution will now hurt his chances of winning another term,”

; said Jessica Hinds, a European economist at Capital Economics. , before CNBC on Thursday.

Macron stood at the door with far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a poll published in October.

The French president reportedly complained that the rate of inoculation was “not decent for the moment or for the French” and said the situation “needs to change quickly and especially”, Le Journal du Dimanche reported earlier. month. The president’s office was not immediately available for comment when it contacted CNBC on Monday.

“The slow pace of vaccination would limit the government’s ability to remove restrictions that affect the economy and people’s daily lives. This would obviously be unpopular with (French) voters, especially if other countries like Germany could remove them sooner.” said Hinds.

Bureaucracy is the main reason for the delays. Citizens had to receive a consultation before vaccination and obtain the consent of their doctor before the injection.

“What I find striking about the French strategy is that government officials did not pay much attention to logistics, to the low,” said Jeremy Gez, a professor at HEC Paris Business School by email.

Reports from the country also show that there is a high anti-vaccine mood among the population compared to other countries.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran initially suggested that the careful distribution would take into account concerns about the vaccine among the population. An Ipsos survey published in late December showed that only 40% of French people planned to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

But the French government now wants to reverse the situation by simplifying the process. The French representative of Veran said that people over the age of 75 will be able to make an appointment online or by phone to be vaccinated.

The country is also expanding eligibility criteria, and the government has promised that 1 million people will be vaccinated before the end of the month.

France is one of the worst affected countries in the pandemic. Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that restaurants and ski resorts would remain closed until at least mid-February, and the night curfew would be extended until the end of January.

Social constraints affect the economy. France’s GDP is expected to shrink by more than 9% in 2020.

The slower the spread of the vaccine, the longer parts of the economy will remain closed.

“The French economy is under anesthesia and only when you pull the fiscal plug will you really understand how quickly economic actors can recover. If that happens quickly, I like Macron’s chances because there are so few alternatives as of today. If not, I would argue that all bets are ruled out, “Gez said of how the economic results would affect the presidential vote.

Macron defeated Le Pen in 2017 on the EU agenda.

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