In 1981, when François Mitterrand was elected President of the Republic - a historic shock after 25 years of undisputed right-wing reign - Jacques Lang, soon to become the illustrious minister we all know, explained that France was about to pass "from the darkness into the light". Currently, with Macron’s presidency, it is neither absurd nor excessive to affirm that France has an opportunity to move from the darkest declinism to the optimism it greatly needs. It is only an impression, obviously, but generated by the tangible impact of his election on public opinion: yes, the transalpine atmosphere is experiencing a perceptible change. It is as if the emergence of the UFO Emmanuel Macron in the heavens of politics gave the smile back to a country that has so far been crushed under the weight of its own pessimism, certainly aggravated by the consequences of the terrorist attacks.
Will there be a reconstruction phase?
Soon after his election, Macron reiterated his intentions, especially that of working on the relaunch and structuring of the #eurozone
On the other hand, the French were preceded by the reactions of the international press, which welcomed the event as "the return of France". The same press that, incidentally, ruled slightly too quickly that, following the pro-Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s rise to power, the Hexagone would be unable to escape the dominant populist wave. However, it reckoned without the French who, scrutiny after scrutiny, have always largely voted against the far right of Marine Le Pen, proving that they did not want to hand over the keys of power - local, regional or national - to her.
It also had to reckon without the politically unknown, who was the very young eighth president of the Fifth Republic. The heir of François Hollande for some and, therefore, linked to the reformist left; incarnation of "oligarchic" capitalism for others and, therefore, an exponent of the anti-social right. For his part, he assures that he can combine "the best of the left and right", so as to form a government with right-wing Prime Minister, some figures from the reformist left, center and right, and even numerous representatives of the civil society.
According to Macron’s (fair) analysis, political life now goes hand in hand with the economy: it is "schumpeterian", that is, in a phase of destruction and reconstruction. This election is good news for Europe and, more generally, for Western democracies, which see the specter of the charm of dictatorship moving away. It is also good news because, only a year ago, when starting his political ascent, Emmanuel Macron had said he wanted to remain faithful to France’s commitment to Europe. Since then, during his election campaign, he reaffirmed that, in his eyes, European Union alone is an appropriate context for those who want to have a future and that leaving the EU (as hoped by the far right and far left) would entail condemnation to decline. Moreover, Macron added that Europe’s current status quo is not only more sustainable, but tends to become a factor of backwardness and disintegration. This opinion also differs from that of François Hollande, one of the advocates of this status quo, even though the outgoing president acknowledges the merit of the unhoped-for rescuing of Greece and, therefore, of the eurozone, during the worst moment of the sovereign debt crisis – and this is no mean feat!
According to Macron's (fair) analysis, political life now goes hand in hand with the economy: it is "schumpeterian", that is, in a phase of destruction and reconstruction. This election is good news for Europe and, more generally, for Western democracies, which see the specter of the charm of dictatorship moving away.
A victory for Europeanism and the fait majoritaire [majority rule]
Soon after his election, Macron reiterated his intentions, especially that of working on the relaunch and structuring of the eurozone. From this point of view, he should once again benefit from favorable circumstances. His proclamation, in fact, coincides with the time when Germany needed Europe, even more so than France. This is because Germany was afraid: while Putin became increasingly hostile in the east, particularly leveraging his support points such as Hungary’s Orban, and especially while Trump’s America threatened a trade conflict, which is why even France was in danger of being dragged away by the far right. It is clear that, in such a situation, Germany needs France to be strong, and we are ready to bet on the fact that it will help it, and that, as a result, it will help Europe and the eurozone to consolidate.
Whatever the case may be, this Europeanism was promptly reaffirmed at the first meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Paolo Gentiloni, associating Italy with France’s position. The inevitable counter is that France will have to operate a certain number of structural reforms launched and imperfectly completed during François Hollande’s five-year term.
Firstly, however, there is still a decisive step to be reached: the legislative elections to be held on June 11 and 18, 2017. Emmanuel Macron’s calculation is both simple and ambitious: the Fifth Republic does not only consist of the president’s election by direct universal suffrage, but is also founded on "fait majoritaire", the conjunction of the majorities. This means that the French give the newly elected the means to govern, or a majority to the National Assembly. All presidents have benefitted from this. The presidential election itself provokes a wind, a momentum that then affects the ballot boxes at the time of electing the deputies. The movement initiated by Emmanuel Macron just one year ago is therefore highly likely to achieve the majority.
The opponents' response
Not to mention that there is not just one opposition, but many. The government’s right wing, that of Nicolas Sarkozy or François Fillon, reacted badly to the appointment of a right-wing Prime Minister close to Alain Juppé: the mayor of Le Havre, Edouard Philippe. Just like that of Bruno Lemaire, former minister of Nicolas Sarkozy and former candidate for the right-wing primaries, for the prestigious role of Minster of the Economy. From then on, therefore, the right, instead of adopting a constructive approach, it has rooted itself in a radical opposition. On the other hand, this fierce disagreement d’emblée [from the outset] had the opposite effect of discouraging a part of the right-wing electorate.
The far right, for its part, is still working on Marine Le Pen’s defeat. A defeat that, however, has finally revealed the truth about the pro-European feelings of the French. For years, France lived under the pressure of the media and sovereign policy, to such an extent that Le Pen considered it appropriate to promote a campaign to exit the euro. Nevertheless, opinion polls revealed that two out of three of the French public did not agree, and it looks like two out of three of the French public voted against Marine Le Pen. Perhaps we can finally forget declinism and overwhelming sovereignty. This situation will force Marine Le Pen, provided she intends to get closer to power, to significantly change the political orientation of her party to find out what it lacks: allies on the right.
As regards the far left, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose political model vaguely reflects that of Hugo Chavez, it is seeking to replace the Socialist Party in the footsteps of Syriza in Greece and, to do so, has chosen the path of demagoguery and hate talk, as occurred against François Hollande. Emmanuel Macron is the enemy for the mere fact of having been a banker. As with Georges Pompidou and the former socialist president of the National Assembly, Henri Emmanuelli, Macron worked for Rothschild before leaving his comfort to serve the state and politics. It is, therefore, from the far left that we should expect the strongest tensions, especially against the emblem of the reform desired by Emmanuel Macron: the simplification of the work code. It is evidently a symbolic struggle, which will be considered, from the outside, as proof of Emmanuel Macron’s actual reform abilities and which the far left, strongly present in at least two of the country’s major unions (Force Ouvrière and CGT), will do everything to see it fail. It is a given fact that France is plagued by pockets of anger, ready to rapidly degenerate, therefore violence cannot be ruled out. Although Macron’s program is substantially moderate: liberal, social, and European.
Never before has the exercise of power been so full of risks as it is now. The political needs of citizens and consumers are no longer unequivocal, on the right or left. They draw from one faction or the other regardless. They are complex, diversified and corporative. There is no comfortable, open France on one side opposite an uncertain, closed France on the other. There are many rifts that intersect and collide: territorial, cultural, category, and identity.
Despite all this, Macron is a carrier of hope. Thanks to his transformation, he has the potential to respond, at least in part, to the crisis of representation through optimism, allowing the nation to say that’s enough to the declinism that is consuming it, and to give citizens the confidence that is the true driver of growth. Thanks to a renewed European spirit, he can become the man of reconciliation with this major historic project. Having the presence of mind never to forget that, on the eve of François Hollande’s term, the main concern of the French public was unemployment, this is still the case at the threshold of this new five-year period. The result will tell!
As regards the far left, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose political model vaguely reflects that of Hugo Chavez, it is seeking to replace the Socialist Party in the footsteps of Syriza in Greece and, to do so, has chosen the path of demagoguery and hate talk, as occurred against François Hollande.