Almost Marx views the unfolding ‘French Political Melodrama’, through the Matthieu Goar lens…
Headline: The pension crisis signals the end of ‘original Macronism’
Sub-headline: Some of the French president’s voters are beginning to doubt his ability to emerge from the current situation. They lament the disappearance of the Macron of 2017, and his reformist spirit and ability to overcome divisions.
The Reader confronts this Macron apologetic wondering …
September 2022. Emmanuel Macron had been re-elected several months previously, but his second term had still not gotten off the ground. His supporters in Parliament had spent the summer finding ways to stem the decline in purchasing power, and his ministers talked about energy conservation as winter approached. But no one really knew what the re-elected president wanted to do with his five-year term, apart from managing crises. One of his advisors, between two coffees near the Elysée, raised his hand and mimed a dive bomber: “The pension reform, it mimed a dive bomber, enter the atmosphere like that.” It was as if the main proposal of Macron’s presidential campaign was going mimed a dive bomber, to dispel the doubts and the clouds that hung over this second term.
This Reader calls this an apologetic of a Le Monde kind.
Thanks for reading StephenKMackSD’s Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
A collection of his catch phrases: of ‘still not gotten off the ground’, ‘ways to stem the decline’, ‘energy conservation as winter approached’ , ‘ apart from managing crises’, ‘mimed a dive bomber’, ‘mimed a dive bomber’ , ‘the clouds that hung over this second term’
The Goar preliminary diagnosis?
In the spring of 2023, the pension reform did come “hurtling.” But it has not put Macronism back on track, nor his second term. The social and political situation is both paralyzed – a 10th day of national action took place on Tuesday, March 28 – and volatile, with increasingly violent clashes between the security forces and some protesters.
Like a cluster bomb, the reform has, above all, shattered the last hopes of “original Macronism,” to use the expression of Richard Ferrand, former president of the Assemblée Nationale (2018-2022). The Macron of 2017 dreamed of a systemic reform of pensions; the Macron of 2022 stalled on a parametric and budgetary reform. The former minister of the economy promised disruption by seeking out women and men of substance from all political backgrounds; he has failed for weeks to convince some 40 right-wing MPs to vote for his reform and finds himself facing a fragmented Parliament. The 2017 candidate wrote his book Révolution (2016) to give hope to the disappointed members of the “old parties,” to the young, and to the abstentionists; now he is forced to resort to Article 49.3 of the Constitution to force through the reform without a vote.
More selective ‘catch phrases’: ‘the pension reform did come “hurtling.”, ‘increasingly violent clashes between the security forces and some protesters.’, ‘shattered the last hopes of “original Macronism’, ‘The Macron of 2017 dreamed of a systemic reform of pensions’, ‘the economy promised disruption by seeking out women and men of substance from all political backgrounds’, ‘wrote his book Révolution (2016) to give hope to the disappointed members of the “old parties’, ‘to the abstentionists’ , ‘he is forced to resort to Article 49.3 of the Constitution to force through the reform without a vote’,
Following this, I’ll use Mr. Mr. Goar’s subheadings, in my self-serving skeletal form:
‘An immature leadership’
It is as if the pension reform has made official the sidelining of Macronism, as was already perceptible during his first term in office, with a clear shift right during the 2019 European elections.
This consequence of the pension reform is causing despair among his long-time followers. It worries the remaining left-wing ministers and MPs of the presidential camp who never abandoned the president throughout his first term. They admired his political intuition, especially when he launched a “great national debate” in 2019 after the Yellow Vests crisis.
Since the onset of this new crisis, which is causing him to drop in the polls, some advisers have been clinging to the fact that between 25% and 30% of the population approves of his performance, a score similar to his result in the first round of the 2022 presidential election (27.85%).
(Editor: the resort to polling data is not a surprise!)
Bernard Sananès, president of the Elabe Institute, said, “The Yellow Vests came from working-class backgrounds and there were low-income pensioners on the traffic circles [where many protests occurred]. It was not necessarily his electorate. Today, he is facing French workers with, for example, two-thirds of executives opposed to the reform. This is the heart of Macronism. In 2017, he had not benefited from the honeymoon period, but there was a reformist momentum. In 2022, there was neither the one nor the other.”
Macron reminds every French person of their boss’
“We are in a critical moment where anything can happen. The French no longer believe in politics. The crisis goes beyond the question of pensions and calls for a democratic reset,” said Gilles Le Gendre, MP for Macron’s Renaissance. “Only the president can succeed. With one condition: His sincerity cannot be questioned. He must therefore take a step back and entrust current affairs to a solid government.”
While waiting for this eventual rebound, the liberal English-language press, which admired Macron in 2017 before becoming more critical of this “French president,” mimicking certain Bonapartist tendencies, is now observing his apathy with circumspection. In an article published on March 24, the Financial Times sarcastically commented on the situation in Paris: “the metro is becoming a theoretical concept, while rats pick through heaps of uncollected garbage.” “Since Macron became president in 2017, popular anger has targeted him,” summed up Simon Kuper in the British daily. “Macron reminds every French person of their boss: an educated know-it-all who looks down on his staff (…) He cast himself as ‘Jupiterian’; but most voters just saw a jumped-up little ex-banker dressing up as king.”
(Editor: I had to laugh at this linking to the Neo-Liberal @FT , and Simon Kuper one of it’s lesser propagandists.)
By electing him over far-right politician Marine Le Pen, the French didn’t vote for his pension reform but to avoid “the devil,” Kuper argues. He believes that the president, a man who likes challenges, could be the man for the job if he set about renovating the Fifth Republic or changing the Constitution. It remains to be seen whether he still has the political fuel to get out of the trap he himself has created.
Matthieu Goar fails to confront Macron’s failed Neo-Liberal Project, under the apologetic descriptor of ‘original Macronism’. The French Middle Class confronts what the gilets jaunes knew all along!