Macron urges defence of democracy on rare state visit to Germany as EU elections loom

Emmanuel Macron began Sunday the first state visit to Germany by a French president in a quarter-century, bringing a plea to defend democracy against nationalism at coming European Parliament elections.

Macron made his first stop a democracy festival in Berlin, where he warned of a "form of fascination for authoritarianism which is growing" in the two major EU nations.

"We forget too often that it's a fight" to protect democracy, Macron said, accompanied by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

If nationalist parties had been in power in Europe in recent years, "history would not have been the same", he said, pointing to decisions on the coronavirus pandemic or Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Steinmeier said: "We need an alliance of democrats in Europe."

Macron "has rightly pointed out that the conditions today before the European elections are different from the previous election, a lot has happened," he added.

'Europe is mortal'

The trip comes two weeks ahead of European Union elections in which polls are indicating a major potential embarrassment for Macron, with his centrist coalition trailing behind the far right.

It could even struggle to reach a third-place finish.


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