Headline:Emmanuel Macron scents revival as France’s great debate ends
Sub-headline: President plans next steps after national dialogue that has shown his campaigning vigour
M. Macron addresses not ‘the people’ but 600 mayors, should this surprise?
Mr Macron — who launched the debate with a marathon seven-hour performance of fielding questions, joking and sparring with 600 mayors in a small town in Normandy — has been in his element criss-crossing the country after retreating from public view in what seemed like a crisis of confidence following the first demonstrations.
But Boris Vallaud and Patrick Devedjian provide some political context:
“He prefers a direct dialogue,” said Boris Vallaud, a member of parliament for the now much-diminished French Socialist party. “Everyone marvels at the performance, but the fact that he’s going over the heads of the parliament, the unions, the representative institutions, is a weakening of democracy.”
Patrick Devedjian, a former government minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy and a politician of the opposition Les Républicains, put it more bluntly: “It worked well. He was good.”
Does the attentive reader of this Financial Times ‘report’ need to look any further than the items Macron excluded from this debate:
He excluded some ideas from the start, including a reimposition of the wealth tax abolished by his government and the reversal of hard-won liberal laws such as those allowing gay marriage and ending the death penalty. said were not subject to consideration
This Financial Times ‘report’ ends with an anonymous comment from ‘one senior official’ : ‘more concrete changes for them ,not less reform’ reflects the opinion of the ‘people’ , or just the magical thinking of a Macron political operative repeating ‘The Party Line’ ? Hoping that the unrest will shrink further, in the month that this ‘report’ will take to put together. And will be subject to ‘…Mr Macron’s advisers insist that he will respond with his characteristic energy to the issues raised by the debate,…’ . An ‘actual debate’ would not be subject to any politically self-serving limitations!
“Their demands are really that things move quicker, not that they stop,” said one senior official familiar with Mr Macron’s thinking. “They want to see more concrete changes for them, not less reform. The conclusion of the great debate will not be to do nothing. The French people won’t accept that.”
Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.