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France's Macron shifts to right on schools and birth rate

French President Emmanuel Macron has come off the fence and opened the way for policies that are unmistakeably on the political right.

That is the unanimous verdict after he gave a long, televised press conference on Tuesday evening.

He promoted uniforms in schools, a crackdown on drugs gangs, and steps to boost France's declining birth rate.

Left-wing commentators deplored his apparent shift from the crafted political balance of recent years.

But they said they suspected all along the right was where his heart lay.

Commentators on the right said they were delighted by his apparent conversion to their views, but suspected it was all a sham.

Macron appeared for two and a half hours before around 100 journalists assembled in the Salle des Fêtes of the Elysée palace.

It was billed as a chance to "meet the nation" and set the themes for his last three years in office, after accusations that he had lost his reforming touch after re-election in 2022.

It also came one week after President Macron's appointment of a new government under Gabriel Attal, the youngest prime minister in French history. Mr Attal leads a cabinet whose make-up is noticeably more right-wing than its predecessors.

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