In the latest embarrassment for Emmanuel Macron, the French President drove down a nearly empty Champs-Elysées on Monday morning as he travelled to the Arc de Triomphe on Victory Day as the public was largely barred from the event over fears that protests against his embattled government would mar the proceedings.
Every year on May 8th, Victory in Europe Day ceremonies are held across the continent to celebrate the official surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, marking the official end of World War II in Europe.
As opposed to years gone past, the event in Paris on Monday was notably quiet, with a large security perimeter being established around the Champs-Elysées in order to prevent the citizens of France from protesting against President Macron, who enraged the public two months ago when his government controversially passed through a raise to the pension age in the National Assembly without a vote.
8-Mai: Emmanuel Macron remonte les Champs-Élysées pic.twitter.com/Yk4knuDT02
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) May 8, 2023
Since then, millions of people have protested, and rioted throughout the country. While the beleaguered president — just one year into his second and final term in office — begged the public last month to give him 100 days to prove the worth of his government and to appease the anger, unions and protest groups have vowed to give him “100 days of anger” in return.
Thus, on Monday, Mr Macron travelled down the famed avenue on his way to the Arc de Triomphe in his car, with the windows closed, surrounded by an escort of the Republican Guard, with almost no members of the public lining the streets, Le Figaro reported.
It was a stark contrast to previous years, when multiple presidents, including Macron himself, were apt to greet members of the public and wave to the crowds aligning the Champs-Elysées, no such interactions from the president were seen on Monday.
Reaching the iconic archway — originally commissioned in 1806 following Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory at Austerlitz — Macron performed the traditional laying of the wreath and revival of the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier. A moment of silence was then held to honour those who lost their lives during the war.
Following the ceremony in Paris, the President travelled to Lyon to visit the Montluc Prison Memorial, where French resistance figures in World War II, such as Jean Moulin, were imprisoned. The Élysée Palace said the event was meant to honour the “French Resistance and the victims of Nazi barbarism.”