As French protests over his unilateral reform to the nation’s pension system continue, President Emmanuel Macron was caught making a fashion faux pas during an interview.
The root of the ongoing protests are two reforms Mr. Macron passed without a parliamentary vote: the raising of the minimum retirement age by two years from 62 to 64, and the planned increase of the amount of time served needed to receive a full pension from 41 years to 43 years.
Before and after footage of the Wednesday interview compiled on Twitter show Mr. Macron with and without his customized Bell & Ross BR V1-92 watch, which can cost over $3,500 without customization. Some on social media had claimed the watch cost over $80,000.
The watch can be heard striking the table, and Mr. Macron’s team contends the timepiece was removed so as to stop the sound.
Mr. Macron’s political opponents immediately picked up on the symbolism of the failed sleight-of-hand, particularly the left-wing La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party.
Quote-tweeting a video of Mr. Macron removing the watch, La France Insoumise parliamentarian Farida Amrani wrote “The president of the rich has never lived up to his name so well.”
Selon #Macron les smicards n’ont jamais autant vu leur pouvoir d’achat augmenter !
Au même moment, le Président cache sa montre dont le prix est bien supérieur au salaire mensuel d’un smicard
Le président des riches n’a jamais aussi bien porté son nom
— Farida Amrani (@Farida_Amrani_) March 23, 2023
For his part, Mr. Macron argues the reforms are financially necessary.
“Do you think I enjoy doing this reform? No,” Mr. Macron said in the interview Wednesday, according to CNBC.
The French right also expressed their displeasure with the centrist Mr. Macron’s course of action.
“This is a political crisis. This is a total failure for the government and Emmanuel Macron personally, and the government must be sanctioned. It has lost the confidence of this assembly and the population,” National Rally leader Marine Le Pen said on the floor of parliament on March 16 when the reforms were passed, according to the Financial Times.
Protest actions in France postponed a planned state visit by British monarch King Charles III. The monarch’s visit to Germany, originally scheduled for after his sojourn to France, will continue; it will be the royal’s first visit to Europe as king.