What is your view on French President Emmanuel Macron?

Good news : Macron is human (may be)

For the past 35 years France has been in static mode. One step to the left, one step to the right, staying on the same spot. Then one person decided to get it moving forward “en marche !” It appeared as easy as lifting the earth on one’ shoulders, Atlas style

Who is Mr. Macron and how did he get where he is now ? More important : what is his agenda ?The magazine “The Economist” has just published a three page article about the man, just as many other media did (or will do). When I quote from this article, I identify it by (E).Macron was born to a provincial middle-class family, both his parents being busy medical doctors, he was raised by his teacher grand-mother. He gained an intensive love both for reading and for thinking. At 15 he had a role in a school drama play : his talent for acting will come useful later as his career unfolds.

At the time he met a teacher, 24 years his senior, whom he will marry ten years later. While the on-line blogs pretend that this marriage is humbug, to hide a gay nature, the French electorate couldn’t care less.

AT 16 he wins the “Concours Générale” in French language and literature, which means that he ranked first among all the brilliant students of his generation. He also won a prize in a piano contest. After failing a first admittance test he insisted to be examined again by the same teacher who rejected him previously. Not for him to avoid obstacles ! He then spent two years studying literature and failed twice the entrance to the highest literature school “The Ecole Normale Supérieure”. As a matter of fact he did not cram for the exams but was busy writing two novels he never finished, realising that he would not be the next young writer prodigy.(That was lucky for all future Nobel prize winners )

At the age of 24 he met and developed a mutual fascination with an aging philosophy professor, Paul Ricoeur, for whom he served as editorial assistant. Much of Macron’s thinking originated from that meeting : instead of France’s confrontational politics, his approach is one of dialogue and synthesis of contrary points of view. In his speeches most sentences are balanced : “Employers need… but at the same time employees are right to demand…” etc. He got a degree in philosophy, attended a school of political science, and played tennis, soccer …and kick boxing.

From his youngest years he “had an uncommon flair for making people feel he is keenly interested in them. Macron, says a former colleague, is “a networking machine”. Wherever he goes, he collects friends.

He enters and graduates (of course at the top of his class) the Ecole Nationale d’Administration. Three of the past five French Presidents, almost all of the cabinets of French ministers come from this elite school.His ranking allows him to be named at the Finance Ministry as “Inspecteur des Finances” (like Giscard, Juppé before him) where he spends four years to become familiar with the way the government is being run.

He then decides to enter private business and goes for a job interview with the manager of Banque Rotschild. As the man told on TV about this meeting : “Don’t look for another job, you are hired not as a trainee but as a managing partner. I have never made in my life such a proposition to anybody else, but I have never met previously someone like Emmanuel Macron”. In a two year banking career he earned a multi-million bonus for organising some of the largest deals of the bank …and then resigned.

The path of Macron towards the presidency is characterised by his high degree of ability but also by an incredible list of lucky (for him) events. Somebody up there, in the heavens, has been eliminating all obstacles that could have impeded his progress…on top of the right choices he made on every turn.He joined Hollande’s team preparing an electoral program for the future president, at the time when the shoo-in socialist candidate for the 2012 election was called Dominique Strauss Kahn. DSK’s sexual excesses were known by the French press, however it took the New York Sofitel incident to put an end to his political career.

As an advisor in the Elysée Palace Macron advocated quite a few policies that Hollande would only follow partially and so he resigned and planned to return to the business world. Then the incumbent Minister of the Economy got involved in a scandal about his hidden foreign accounts…and Manuel Valls called for Macron to replace monsieur Cahuzac.As a minister Macron managed to carry out some small reforms…but overhauling the Labour laws met too strong resistance…so he resigned and started his own party.

At the time he had just a few hundred followers and the potential presidential candidates included two French presidents and three ex-prime ministers. None survived the preliminary polls of the Right and the Left. Sarkozy was felled by the hatred he accumulated at the time of his stay in power, Juppé made a mess ot his campaign by focusing exclusively on his opposition to Sarkozy and it’s Fillon who came up on the top. Suddenly the media got the revelation of the vast public sums Fillon pocketed through the alleged work of his wife (smaller amounts would not have upset the French) and his program of strict austerity for the country seemed too hypocritical to swallow. On the left Hollande proved too unpopular to stand for a re-election and Manuel Valls too right-wing for the Socialists he planned to represent. Macron wisely stayed out of the preliminary rounds, as his message was that the opposition of Right and Left no longer corresponded to the “l’esprit des temps”. As goes the saying : “Nothing is stronger than an idea of which the time has come”.

Macron correctly judged what the electorate was thirsting for…. the last round of this long electoral season Macron faced Marine Le Pen. Under all circumstances he was slated to win as Marine’s candidacy was hobbled by her party’s past and also by a program that advocated both staying and leaving the euro zone. In the final TV duel amongst the two opponents Marine managed to make the worst performance of her long political career : instead of a close win the final score in favour of Macron was 66 %.

What qualities did Emmanuel Macron display to get to the top? To launch his own movement, with no previous political experience, he needed an enormous amount of nerve, what the Economist called “fearsome self-belief”. (The Yiddish word chutzpah seems the best description). His public speaking performance is by no means exceptional. (He is no Hitler, Mussolini or even Mélenchon).

What worked for him was his message. In a melancholy country, in prey of self-doubt he irradiated hope and optimism. After the disappointment of the last five Presidents the time was ripe for something new. It seemed obsolete that the country was condemned to an eternal opposition between Left and Right. He proposed a program carefully calibrated to be half-way between Right and Left/ Anyway the electoral season has lasted much too long, the various detailed programs of all the candidates much too boring…it was a matter of selecting the man who seemed the right leader, and Emmanuel Macron fitted the bill.

On the subject of the European Union and of globalisation he did not hesitate to promote unpopular ideas : one might not like some facts, but it’s no use to wish them away. France needs to join reality rather than dream about changing it overnightParliamentary elections will take place in June and some people bet that the ambitious reforms foreseen will never get through the Chambers. Strictly speaking a small minority of the electors had voted for Macron, if one takes into account the absentees, the people whose first choice was some other candidate …

Conceivably his party –cobbled together in haste- could get less than an absolute majority. Normally a newly elected president gets from the electorate a majority in the Parliament…. Macron’s bet is that the possible right and left oppositions would never agree on an alternative program so he will be the winner. Whenever in a constituency his party comes through in the first ballot, for the second ballot where generally there will only be two candidates left, he will get the help of whoever is excluded, whether it be Right or Left.

Also many politicians, especially on his right, will be loath to spend five (or ten ?) years opposing a program not too far from the one their party had proposed, and will be tempted to get some ministerial portfolio. So the coming parliamentary elections should not mean the end of his “ en marche”. (get moving).

How about the Unions ? Many labour leaders are opposed to many of Macron’s ideas : re-writing the Labor Law involves allowing firms to freely negotiate with their employees or the unions that the employees chose concerning working hours, wages other conditions. That would make the powerful centralised Union leaders quite redundant ! Foreseeing a maximum amount an employer can be condemned to, if the dismissal of an employee is judged unlawful by the Courts. Retirement rules of public employees are often a lot more favourable than the ones the rest of the country has to accept …However there is a general feeling that if France’s economy is to move forward, many of the traditional brakes will have to be removed.

How will the negotiations with the Unions go ? Much depends upon the public mood next Fall. While the Unions have a history of putting the country to standstill, when they dislike some reform proposal, they would be loath to do so against the overwhelming public opinion. Macron’s “Thatcher moment” is approaching (E)

What is Macron’s style like ? He displayed it when the day of inauguration at the Louvre Museum he walked for over a minute, alone, at the sound of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony which happens to be the Hymn of the European Union. Only De Gaulle (and maybe Mitterrand) managed to match his solemnity !

His ministers also claim that he has become totally “presidential”. Paul Ricoeur, his mentor in philosophy, has taught him that the French needed to find in their leader a sense of “verticality”. Will this be sufficient ? Will some outside event help him, as it did so often in the past ?

If a huge storm should engulf whatever demonstration is organised against his policies, then indeed one might ask the question : is Macron fully human ?

19 Replies to “What is your view on French President Emmanuel Macron?”

  1. Up until about 24 hours ago – my opinion was roughly speaking : Meh!

    Then he did this… And transformed himself in my eyes…

    Walk right up to the President of the USA, then ignore him completely and shake hands with everyone else first…

    Brilliant!

  2. Thanks for the A2A.

    So far, it seems that there are only two things certain about President Macron:

    • he is going to have a very large legislative majority to implement his reforms (as of yesterday, 8pm).
    • he seems really eager to implement his reforms, really quick. (as has been leaked in the press).

    I am not sure what effect these reforms will have. Right now, his opponents claim they will take job security away from workers. I really have to ponder that, especially today, that I am going to my job that I’ve had for years, with only 1 day-contracts. That’s right. Every time I work for a day, I have a new contract.

    So that makes me quietly giggle (or maybe cry a little bit?) when baby-boomers yell that Macron will destroy job security in France! Job security? Why don’t you try walking in my (safety) shoes for a day, before you claim that “job security” will disappear in this country.

    On top of the staggering number of unemployed people, you have to remember that there is an equally large number of underemployed people, part-time employees, or people who only get seasonal jobs, in France. These don’t go reported as “unemployed”.

    I was having a debate with a friend and neighbor a few days ago. She is a lovely lady who has been a nurse for 30 years. She is in he 50s now, and said that “job security will disappear under Macron”.

    I reminded her that “job security” was a theme always discussed by people in their 50s, never by people like me in their early 30s or younger. Because we don’t know what it means. We never had any.

    I don’t mind it if Macron levels the labor playing field, and puts the younger generation, constantly under fire, on an even keel with the relatively safe older people.

    I don’t mind it if Macron destroys the lifetime job security of civil servants, who, in France, can almost never be fired no matter what (an aberration in the current world).

    I don’t mind it if he lowers the public debt, makes work more flexible for everyone (like it is for me) or shrinks the size of the public sector.

    I don’t mind it if we “just copy everything Germany does” or “always follow Germany” or “become Germany’s lapdog” like the FN extremists have claimed. Germany isn’t doing so bad at the moment, now, are they? If “being Germany’s lapdog” means having a public surplus, a positive trade balance and no unemployment, then, pardon my German, but woof-woof!

    And right now, the union leaders that will undoubtedly block every street in France come September have absolutely zero legitimacy. Not only did Macron get a landslide victory in the Presidential run, but he is poised to get a similar landslide in the legislative elections.

    So whoever says he acts contrary to the wishes of the people probably doesn’t believe too much in democracy. Which wouldn’t be surprising from union leaders that were heavily influenced by Moscow, pre-1989, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who was a huge admirer of Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan model… look where it got them!

    Maybe we’ll be disappointed, who knows? In all likelihood, the medicine is going to be bitter, make us slightly ill, and won’t work for a couple of years.

    Things didn’t get smooth right after Agenda2010 and the Hartz reforms in Germany. In fact, I believe they were rougher at first. But it worked.

    Many people will oppose us going on this diet. But it is necessary, I believe. Tough but necessary.

    The danger with democracy is that when voters see the dangerous side-effects first, they tend to quit before they get the positive results. Look at Greece with Tsipras, or Spain. Spain has passed some very tough reforms, and they are only starting to see the results right now, years after it. They still have 20% unemployment, but it it down from 25. And industry jobs are moving there.

    I only hope we have the patience to see it through.

    Even if it means Macron is a one-term President. In fact I expect him to be. At the ripe-old age of 38, and one of the most incredible résumés in the world… hell, he is only 6 years older than I am, and he’s freakin’ President! In any case, it is probably a good thing that he is not a career politician. He won’t mind if he become unpopular enacting necessary reforms.

    May I add that it looks like the Assemblée Nationale (our main parliament chamber, for which we voted last night and again in a week), seems headed for a deep renewal: apparently, 2/3rd of deputies ( =MPs) have never set foot in there. That is refreshing. Maybe they will not be “politicians” either?

  3. President Macron’s rise to power should be well documented and would go in the annals of political history, how to do a complete rebranding and come out successful without doing anything radical. If at all he was elected, it was for not being Marine Le Pen. He is a very clever man, if nothing else, and knows very well how to play to the gallery, as seen during his meeting with Trump.

    First of all he is not a Centrist as he is portrayed, because he worked as Economic Minister in former President Hollande’s Socialist government, so making him anything but a Centrist. It was the same Hollande’s government which failed to reduce unemployment and civil unrest that has grappled France for now almost for a decade. In short he represents the continuation of same failed policies which had made Hollande so unpopular that he chose not to fight again for the elections.

    Having proven links to Rothschild bank, and having lived all his life in luxury, he can hardly be called Man of the people. He was found out when he went to meet Whirlpool employees before the election. More likely than not, his policies would represent the interests of the elites and the rich, rather than the poor and the betrayed mass of people, who had got sick of the previous government. He would be at least a pro-corporate and an anti-worker.

    His words on terrorism showed his complete disregard for human lives and reminded of Marie Antoinette’s infamous words “Let them have cake”, and not surprisingly memes were ready.

    I would simply hope that whatever is known about him until now, does not affect how he runs France for next 5 years. I hope that he is able to fulfill all his election promises and puts an end to all, that has made France infamous for past couple of years. I hope for the good of France, he succeeds.

  4. His centrist policies and campaigning won him the election. I like to think he was the better option than the rest. It was also vital to not let the far-right win, and he accomplished that.

    He also seems strongly in favour of a united Europe, as the EU, mind you, not a super European state. This is best for all of Europe and the stability of the region.

    In today’s time when some Eastern European nations are electing far-right leaders, who wish to undo all that the EU was setup to accomplish, Macron is a good candidate.

  5. This is my own point of view:

    • We have been hearing about him from all the french medias during the whole year, along with Marine Le Pen;
    • His whole popularity has been created from scratch, every meeting during the campaign was just an illusion. The guy owned the medias and the crowd, then everyone just followed without even knowing why. He used a lot of young naive teenagers for free during his campaign to heat the atmosphere at the meetings, a “Team Ambiance”. He also made a team called “les Marcheurs” (the walkers in english, like in walking dead) to distribute leaflets and go door to door. Here is a little french video explaining the Team Ambiance:
    • He is one of the guys from the Hollande’s governement to have highly contributed for really contested laws like Loi Macron, Loi Travail, Pacte de responsabilité, using the 49.3, you name it;
    • He his a 100% liberalist;
    • He wants to keep nuclear electricity even if it is dangerous, polluting and getting really expensive with the “Grand carrénage” project, which basicly consist of rebuilding everything from scratch because it is old;
    • He favors bus lines (Ouibus, FlixBus, Isilines…) over train lines (TGV, TER, InterCités), which is slower and more polluting but cheaper to maintain;
    • He makes me cringe really hard:

    As you can see I don’t really like him.

    But I have to admit he seems to have balls. He said in front of Putin and the medias “RT and Sputnik did not behave like journalists, but like organizations of influence” (more or less). Putin’s face tells everything. Too bad it’s from the guy who owns all the french medias.

  6. I have lived in France since 1982, not long after the beginning of Mitterand’s first term of office. I fled Britain to get away from Thatcher and found refuge in France where neo-liberal economics had no found any foothold. Now Thatcher seems to be catching up with me. OK Macron is more of a Tony Blair than a Thatcher, but what he wants to do is much the same, even if the methods will be different. I of course voted for him in the second round against the fascist Le Pen, but he has obviously not taken into account that he was very lucky to be opposite Le Pen and not someone who could have countered his arguments.

    He’s no doubt a brilliant man, but what I’ve seen of him since the election has made me change my mind on his own person. I find him smug, a Mister Know-All, handing out taps on the arm, or even the face, to people over twice his age. He certainly has courage, but he is too sure of himself. He made a great mistake a few days ago, making a joke about a Mayotte fishing boat being used to bring in not fish, but “Comorean”, ie illegal immigrants from the neighbouring Comores, using the singular form, insinuating that they were a substance rather than human beings. So he’s not as clean as he makes out to be. I hope that will cost him a lot in the elections, although the polls seem to think he’ll get a landslide.

    His plan to govern by decree over the summer when everyone is on holiday will not go down well and can be considered as anti-democratic.

    OK, we all loved his treatment of Trump. He’s got charisma, but he’s too smooth to be true as far as I’m concerned.

  7. Macron is a little weird.

    Even when compared to Marine Le Pen, he lacks political experience. However, what I like about him is his generosity and tolerance for others.

    Macron is very young, just 39 years old. He definitely will have a major impact.

    Of course, he is not charming like his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau. But a wave of young and energetic politicians are coming. Macron is the leading edge.

    We need to support Emmanuel Macron. He has a new vision for France. I enjoy it.

  8. I like him a lot. He’s got guts, he leads his life on his own terms, he’s free from the shackles of party history or ideology.

    He is pro-European Union. He’s not the only one but others have to deal with anti-EU people in their own party, or they hide behind the EU to impose measures they know are necessary (it’s not me, it’s the EU…). He’s the only one who’s meetings feature European-flag wavers. Since the no vote to the European constitution in 2005, nobody dares to really speak out on the subject, for fear of losing votes.

    He advocates France as open, adventurous, conquering, (as it was in 1900); not inward-looking navel gazing; not feeling threatened because some women wear headscarves. Not believing (like the current US Prez, for example) that the rest of the world is laughing at us or out to do us down.

    Economically, he is liberal, but I believe it’s not ideological, rather a pragmatic response to the situation.

    When he was a kid, his teachers thought he could be a great actor, or a writer. He’s not one of those people who entered politics at 18 and then spent their life in it.

    And of course, he’s shown he can stand up to the likes of Putin and that other orange-haired bully.

    And finally, he’s led his life on his own terms, not bowing to prejudice or taboos; not doing anything like everyone else.

    On the down side, he is rather cocky and too sure of himself. But who would not be, after ripping the whole political establishment to pieces and coming out on top (not a single party was left unscathed – the latest victim being the National Front, which is due to explode over the Euro just as soon as the parliamentary election is over). And I’m sure he gets ticked off by Brigitte when he steps over the line (as the did with the Comoreans recently).

  9. It’s great for:

    • Europe Europe Europe
    • more equality (insurance against unemployment for everyone, dividing by two in the poor areas the number of children in a classroom)
    • renewal of theEuropean elites (the youngest french president and the youngest leader of the OECD countries)
    • innovation (promoting technology, investing in the technologies of the future to preserve and enhance France and Europe's global competitiveness)
    • more entrepreneurship (he want to liberalise the labour market and he has a deep understanding of how digital transformation is profoundly changing the economy and society)
    • shaking hands 🙂
  10. I think he is a very charismatic and capable man, and represents the future of the french political landscape.

    Despite being one of the most popular politics, I don't think he gets the credits he deserves. Many people say he is corrupt because he worked for a bank (the famous Rothschild investment bank) before getting into politics. In my honest opinion, this is what makes him so good as a minister, because he understands what finance really is when he's talking about it. It also enabled him to have a great variety of contacts in different parts of the society that many other politics don't have.

  11. It’s a bit early to come to an informed conclusion but he is a very intelligent man who knows his way around the financial world. Things are looking up for France. He seems to behave correctly, chooses his words carefully and best of all, he handles foreign leaders with aplomb.

    There are plenty of images showing the stubby fingered “bully boy” Trump pushing, pulling and squeezing people’s hands in an effort to demonstrate his “superior” strength.

    Well, he met his Waterloo in Emmanuel Macron who made my day when Trump’s knuckles went white as he tried to extricate his hand from Emmanuel’s grip. A classic and I haven’t seen the Donald try anything like it since.

    Macron is the man!

  12. I voted for the man. I don’t regret it for now.

    • Emmanuel Macron picked Edouard Philippe as his PM. It was an amazing choice. He was seen by some as a leftist and pick a PM from the moderate right, a juppeiste.
    • The government has people from outside the political world. A feminist is secretary to the equality women/men. A doctor is minister of health. A jurist is justice minister. Etc…
    • Emmanuel Macron seem to be quite talented on the international stage. He has good communication skills and knows how to behave with every foreigb leader. For exemple, he welcomed Putin with the respect due to a head of state but told that he doesn’t agree with his policies on human right.
  13. A2A

    I'm divided.

    On the one hand, I recognize the extreme skill of a man who surprised everyone, especially the political world, by surfing the wave of French discontent with traditional parties.

    On the other hand, I fear that his already sensitive authoritarianism will lead him to a confrontation with a people who abstained from voting at 57% for the election of deputies to the National Assembly, which seems to me proof of disagreement on at least two points: the labor law and tax measures.

    We needed new blood but the miracle of the providential man is a little too big to swallow for an ancient people and therefore suspicious by nature.

    So, we’ll see…

  14. So from a French born citizen living in the US, my view is that in the past, I have never been ashamed to carry a French passport. I just cannot say that anymore.

    Let’s be real here: First this guy did not get chosen by French people but got elected by people who voted AGAINST Le Pen. Two, he is married to a felon who ultimately enjoys all the privileges (paid for by French taxpayers) and luxury of the presidential palace.

    Secondly: What type of moral values can possibly have a person who thinks and witnessed firsthand that money can buy anything including getting away with pedophilia? Huh?

    This man got two important life lessons growing up.

    • Rich people do not turn other rich people in, even if they are guilty of a crime on your own kids (why didn’t his parents turn his wife in when she was his professor and started dating him?)
    • As long as you come from a rich bourgeoisie family -and even if anybody from working class descent would have wound up in jail- it is okay for a 40 years old teacher to have a relationship with one of her 15 years old students.

    Even if the age of consent is 15 in France, the law (code civil) specifically mentions that it is a felony for people in a position of authority (Cops, teacher, etc) to engage in a sexual relationship with minors under 18.

    What Brigitte Trogneux- Macron did is a FELONY in France, period. And instead of sitting in jail where she belongs, she enjoys life in the Elysée palace. She grosses me out each time I see her.

  15. I may be taking a rather British view on Macron, being Anglo-French, I follow the politics of both countries.

    Now this may be because of my origins but Macron’s, always trying to please everyone approach to politics gives me the hibigeebies due to the similarities between him and British ex-prime minister Tony Blair.

    Both started out in politics in left wing parties, and then started their own movements, one re-branding his original party into new Labour, the other deciding to form a new party.

    Both being proponents of the “third way” a compromise between traditional socialism and a pro-business approach.

    We shall see if Macron manages to maintain his current popularity or if some of his reforms fall flat. His Glyphosate reform to start with.

    You never know this answer may start getting upvotes in a year or two.

  16. As my dream is to serve as a US diplomat in France, I’ve been following the election closely since February. After reading the candidate’s profiles, I knew I lined up with Macron the best by far. A centrist! I didn't know a politician could that! I also approved of his support of nuclear energy. Hopefully, his economic experience is enough to strengthen the French economy, reduce unemployment, and give France more discretionary funding. Maybe they’d use it to buy a new aircraft carrier! France will likely never reclaim her superpower status, but with Président Macron it seems to me like France will have a chance.

  17. So far, I find myself liking him more and more. He is smart, he seems to be honest, he seems to really want to improve things for everyone in the country, he wants to modernize certain practices that make it hard for small business owners to succeed. Clearly, what he wants to do won't please everyone, and much of it will depend on what happens in the French legislative elections in June. But I really do believe he is going to do his best for the country.

    Also, he is showing the world that France is a “player,” and that’s not a bad thing either!

  18. expected to be a economical revolutionarym he will publish new laws and make so many people upset because it is mostly getting poor people weaker and more tax and more flexible, I expect big strikes in the street. and the rich will get richer, but they are very few. More will pay taxes and it will become more difficult to avoid to declare incomes since new incomes like UBER AIRBNB etc will be taxable (automatic transmission)

    For me a big expected tax increase, on many fronts.

    I did not vote for him…

  19. President Macron was elected with a record low voter participation. Not one of our French friends and relations has voted for this President. France is in deep trouble, economically and socially. Macron will soon lose initial voter enthousiasm when the French get back to work after their Summer holidays.

    He is not the kind of leader with the ability and determination to bring about change for the better. His profile is very similar to his predecessor’s.

    Unfortunately, la France has lost her grandeur for ever.

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