Macron hopes strutting on world stage will be noticed at home

France’s president is on maneuvers in the Middle East. Over the weekend, Emmanuel Macron concluded a three-country tour of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. He was there, of course, to talk foreign policy. But his real audience was thousands of kilometers away in France.

The next French election is almost exactly four months away and the chessboard of rivals is almost complete. On Saturday, even as Macron was arriving in Jeddah, the main center-right party chose its candidate, Valerie Pecresse, who runs the Ile-de-France region around Paris. In her victory speech, she set out her stall on law and order, immigration and the economy – all familiar topics that Macron rivals can be expected to focus on.

Instead, France’s president hopes to keep his office by shifting the conversation beyond the French borders. Macron knows his best chance of being re-elected is keeping French minds as far away from home as possible.

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