The hardest is yet to come for Macron

The author is a researcher at the Center for International Studies and Research at the University of Montreal.

The victory was unequivocal. President Emmanuel Macron was reelected on Sunday for a second five-year term, 17 points ahead of Marine Le Pen. From the first round, on April 10, he was able to rally around him a solid bloc of voters, which then millions of French people joined, more or less sharing his ideas but determined to block the far right.

What is he going to do with this new five-year term? In 2017 he had promised a lot. We must remember those meetings where he more often appeared as a… preacher then a party leader and where he called on his supporters to make a revolution, the title of his program book published several months before the start of the election campaign. He wanted to turn everything upside down by releasing the energies of each individual, a position in line with his liberal ideology. And above all to make France a ” Startup nation”, a country where everyone can say to himself that he will be able to set up his own company. In this regard, he gives himself an A +, France, he said recently, is the country in Europe “that produces the most start-ups and they grow. †

Without proper management of the COVID pandemic, his voluntariness and lack of empathy when his decisions touched the most vulnerable have almost permanently damaged his first term. The crisis of the yellow vests was the most notable reaction.

Has the president learned? He thinks so. During the 2022 election campaign, he promised the widest possible consultation to address issues likely to meet very strong resistance in French society: pension and pension reform, education, purchasing power, rising energy prices. And he wants to register this new five-year term under the seal of ecology, to make France “the ecological nation” par excellence, he launched in his victory speech. This could be more difficult than creating “start-ups”, the environmental record of the past five years is hotly contested.

There will be no state of mercy, headlined the Sunday evening newspaper The world† Facing a divided France, the president has announced a “new era”. He must now organize it by facing two major challenges if he is to succeed in this second five-year term. In the short term, he must win the parliamentary elections on June 12 and 19 and gain a stable majority in the National Assembly to carry out his program.

In the medium and long term, he will have to find a political response to the rapid rise of extremes in France.

An election or re-election boosts the president’s party and enables him to gain a majority in the National Assembly. The election of Emmanuel Macron in 2017 did not prove that this scenario was wrong, despite the swift launch of a new party, the Republic on the Move, composed of real macronists, rallies from the left and right, and last-minute opportunists. He sent 305 deputies to the Assembly’s 577 seats, the vast majority of whom were newcomers.

If Macron had free rein to carry out his legislative program during his five-year term, his party is still struggling to establish itself throughout France. However strong his strength was the enthusiasm and mobilization of the “walkers” (followers of his political education) around an individual, this proved to be a weakness during the municipal, regional and departmental elections. Movement of clickers “More than militants, according to the senator and leader of the macronist group in the Senate, François Patriat, the party suffers from the inexperience of its leaders.

With a few exceptions, the deputies and ministers are little known. The more established or more militant formations have defeated the presidential party in numerous elections and retain a certain significance in the political landscape where they could reserve surprises at the time of the parliamentary elections in June.

According to political scientist Bruno Cautrès, “political training is all about grassroots politics, it’s contact with citizens, it’s knowledge of the field, it’s an ability to influence the area, the local economic fabric, the associative actors at the local level, all those who try to move things forward, that has been a weakness of La République en Marche from the start.”

A party is not only an instrument for gaining power, it is also a laboratory of ideas. And at this level, Macron will need one, because this presidential 2022 will continue to be marked by the progression of the extremes, of the right and of the left, and of their ideas.

In the first round of voting, the three far-right candidates – Le Pen, Zemmour and Dupont-Aignan – got 33% of the vote and that of the far left – Mélenchon – 22%. This vote, some say out of desperation, undermines the president’s promise five years ago that the French no more reason to vote for the extremes † lost a bet.

How then can we preserve the unity of a country divided in two? The presidential party seems ill-equipped to answer this question. Welcoming disappointed people from both the left and the right has never defined itself ideologically. Moreover, it gave way to the Elysée, to the presidential power from which all orientations arose.

In fact, says Bruno Cautrès, the presidential party has been handicapped from the start. “There is an identity problem, an ideological positioning. The walkers are diverse,” he told France-Info. Indeed, what brings together “egalitarian progressives, people who come from the left, who want social justice, and then liberal conservatives, people who come from the right, and who want us to have more borders. and who also want a more competitive economy?” summarizes the political scientist. Not much, except one man, the president.

More will be needed to repair the tears that have accumulated for decades and that shape both the extremes and the disappointed. I have just spent three months in France, where I have met dozens of French people from all walks of life, from all walks of life and from all major ideological movements. I spent a dozen hours interviewing yellow vests and following them in certain demonstrations. The demands are often contradictory, often unrealistic, but they all reject the institutions – National Assembly, presidency, media, unions, universities – and look for another way to be governed, to live together.

After the election series, “we will have to completely rethink the system,” an influential member of Emmanuel Macron’s Parti En Marche told the magazine the day after the first round. Pointreferring to the state of French society.

Can the president handle this construction site?

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