Opposition party leader has claimed the French president has abandoned his people in ignoring voters’ wishes on pension reforms France’s Marine Le Pen (center) is shown campaigning for president in April 2022. © Getty Images / Sylvain Lefevre

Emmanuel Macron’s decision to push through pension reforms – in defiance of public opinion on the issue – has created a “total rupture” between the French president and his country’s people, opposition party leader Marine Le Pen has claimed.

“The problem is that Emmanuel Macron is completely bunkered,” Le Pen said on Saturday in an interview with France’s BFM TV. “He can no longer leave the Elysée [presidential palace] without arousing the ire of a people he refuses to listen to and whose will he refuses to respect.”

Macron was booed by crowds in eastern France on Wednesday, when he made his first public appearances since he signed into law an unpopular pension law earlier this month. Union workers claimed credit for cutting off the electricity at a woodworking factory in Muttersholtz just before the president arrived, leaving him partially in the dark during his visit. The pension reforms, which included raising France’s retirement age to 64 from 62, sparked mass protests and civil unrest across the country.

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“He generated anger, and it is he who is at the origin of the disorder, the chaos,” Le Pen said. “I believe that today, there is a total rupture between Emmanuel Macron and the French people.”

Le Pen accused the president of refusing to listen to public outcry on the pension law, reflecting a “failing democracy.” She added, “When the people say no, it’s no. We will have to tell him that democracy is doing what we said we were going to do. Democracy is respecting the will of the people.”

An Ifop Group poll released on Wednesday showed that Le Pen has overtaken Macron in public popularity. Asked which of the two personalities they prefer, respondents favored Le Pen over the president by a 47%-42% margin. Macron defeated Le Pen in last year’s presidential election by more than 17 percentage points. He beat her even more handily in 2017, winning 66.1% of the votes.

France’s next presidential election is scheduled for 2027, when Macron won’t be able to run again because of term limits. Le Pen, leader of France’s National Rally party, plans to run for president for the fourth time. Even before Macron signed the pension bill last week, a poll showed that he would lose to Le Pen by a 55%-45% margin if they were to face off again.