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As election looms, can Macron show he has governed for all for France?

By Angelique Chrisafis

28 Feb 2022 · 8 min read

On the edge of one of Brittany’s poorest housing estates, a six-year-old girl sits in class and works on her handwriting. Her teacher, Lucile, encourages her as 11 other children sit around tables, arranged into cosy nooks. “Every day I listen to each child read to me, I never managed that when I had 25 in a class,” said Lucile. “I get to know each child individually and it’s so calm.”

It is in classrooms like this, in France’s most deprived neighbourhoods, that the centrist president, Emmanuel Macron, wants his record in office to be considered. When he came to power five years ago – a former banker who had served as economy minister under the left – he promised a “pragmatic” cherrypicking of ideas from both left and right that would liberalise the economy and end the persistent inequality that he said “imprisoned” people by their social origins.

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