Eyeing Re-election, Macron Walks a Tightrope Above Swirling Crises in France

Mar 05, 2021 · 79 comments
Alex (LA)
Unpopular but unbeatable. I won’t even tune in. He will win. Unless everyone just goes with this assumption, don’t vote, and let marine le pen walk away with it. Seemingly macron has outflanked her and made him the only viable candidate despite his unpopularity.
jms (ny)
Thanks, Mr Cohen for a cogent piece on Macron and for enlarging my vocabulary with 'funambulist.' Now retired, I spent ~15% of my working time in France in the '90's, never understood their politics and can now do so somewhat from your incisive coverage.
A.L.P. (Illinois)
Thank you, Mr. Cohen: fascinating piece!! No matter next year's election results, Mr. Macron's recent declaration, as President of France, that the death of Ali Boumendjel (the leading Algerian nationalist during the Algerian war) was not a suicide but rather a killing by French soldiers, is of major historical significance and a world victory for the Truth.
Pinus contorta (Oregon)
Being angry at Macron for his pension rollback, poor performance managing the pandemic and inability to move constructively on integration of immigrants is understandable. The schism between "French" people and "people living in France" who are from Islamic nations is a tumor that must be treated to reduce tension and provide opportunity. Assimilation a la the US is a model that France has somehow been unable to duplicate. (Alas, Islamophobia and xenophobia still have force in the US but not as a sort of national policy.) French society demands a nationalist sentiment while feeling good about its worldliness. Too much attention is paid to head scarves and not enough to creating jobs in Muslim communities. It is this parochialism that needs to yield to some degree to heal the rift and truly integrate immigrants into French society. But Macron needs to attract right-leaning voters to stave off the challenge from Le Pen and the RN so I don't expect a major leftward policy shift on immigration. Perhaps, though, that is where Hidalgo can inspire turnout for an authentic leftist agenda that Macron may have represented at first, but that he has since abandoned. Her background gives her special insight into issues of housing and jobs in immigrant wards. An untapped source of votes could get her into the second round against Macron.
J. von Hettlingen (Switzerland)
The French presidential election is more than a year away, but the jostling has already begun. Macron may still be the favourite. But much can happen until then, and there is no shortage of opponents hoping to take advantage of any opportunity to unseat him. The race is anything but predictable. France is mired in crises - a deep recession as a result of a raging Covid-19 pandemic, and a return of the political debate around immigration and Islamist radicalism. Macron is pandering to patriotic passions, while promoting himself as Europe’s new leader after Angela Merkel. He is an opportunist, seeking to be a good funabulist. Since he was a precocious child, he seems to have the instinct to muddle through.
TM (Philadelphia)
Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. would do well to have “an elastic and disruptive political doctrine,” like Macron's: the key word is “elastic.” The U.S.’s volatile left-vs.-right cultural and political conflicts, volatile economy, and volatile states rights-vs.-federal-government tiffs (e.g., Texas and Mississippi eliminating the mask mandate) require deftness and elasticity at the federal level. Biden is showing some elasticity with his compromises (e.g., the $100 reduction in weekly unemployment benefits, in the COVID-19 relief bill, and the withdrawal of the Tanden nomination). Yes, a recent poll gave Marine Le Pen 48 percent of the vote in a runoff with Mr. Macron, but she - like the U.S.’s Trumpists - will fail miserably in the election, just as her father did in 2002, when Jacques Chirac defeated Jean-Marie Le Pen (leader of The National Front) in the biggest landslide in French presidential-election history, winning over 82% of the vote. A note for U.S. Republicans: The National Front did not appear again in the second round of a French presidential election until 2017. A second note for U.S. Republicans: Your adherence to Trumpism suggests that a comparable 15-year exile into irrelevance (like that of The National Front) is well underway now in the G.O.P.,, with Cruz, Hawley, and other Trump-idolaters looking a lot like Jean-Marie Le Pen and his daughter. Take heed, and find yourself an ethical, intelligent, accomplished centrist politician to run in 2024.
Adrian (The Cotswolds, UK)
Fluency is easily mistaken for cogency. As de La Rochefoucauld said "There are few people more frequently wrong than those who cannot suffer being wrong." (Or "Il n'y a point de gens qui aient plus souvent tort que ceux qui ne peuvent souffrir d'en avoir.") Macron just can not stand to be wrong and so suffers the fate de La Rouchefoucauld suggested. Power-hungry, vain, dishonest in the smallest details of his own life and so unsurprisingly dishonest in the largest areas of public policy, Macron should not be trusted to do anything other than pursue his own relentless self-promotion and tragically incapable of learning from his mistakes because he is so convinced he can never be wrong. Sell.
Laurence Bachmann (New York)
Macron's not enigmatic. He's a politician. He spins, he panders, he feints and morphs into whatever he needs to be to retain power. He is an egoist who believes that France does not need principles or ideals. He believes France needs him.
Joy Mars (Provence)
Good article. Comprehensive. Thanks.
Paul (Paris)
The alternative is a right wing fascist who I will not name. Let’s hope Macron keeps the center as well
Barry Schiller (North Providence RI)
its hard not to look at France for inspiration, the birthplace of the enlightenment, for how to live, for its culture, and for its help in our revolutionary war. Its current President seems both in tune with all that and still seems to defy left-right categorization, e.g. actively addressing climate change but recognizing that massive immigration and jihadiism are destabilizing. With the right-wing divided into traditional Republicans and the LePen party, the left divided with traditional socialists and the more radical France unbowed, hard to see how Macron could lose. I wish France well and hope that it remains an inspiration!
Daniel (Vancouver Canada)
Macron is not someone who most French would choose to have a drink with, but he is very detailed manager who has held firm on his promises to modernize archaic systems and up until COVID, these changes were starting to bear fruit. I think that when it comes down to it, most French will begrudgingly vote for his vision of the future over his opponents empty promises to turn back the clock.
Neil (Texas)
A great article on French politics that I can't get enough of. Thanks. I read Le Monde, Le Figaro daily and it seems Mscron has become a Trump. In that the obsession with this man - what he says and what he does. But my bet is like Trump, he will lose because many are simply fatigued with this obsession. I don't think it is Le Pen who is a threat to Mscron but someone like Madame Hidalgo - because as a mayor of Paris - she commands a lot more votes. And especially if it is 2 women against Macron in the next election.
Jacques BOSSONNEY (Paris)
Silly argument about Hidalgo commanding more votes as a mayor of Paris. She was elected by the east side arrondissement and with the help of the greens. She is far from being popular in most of Paris areas. And her record as mayor is far from stellar. People outside of Paris (and there more than 60m of them) do not care what she did as a mayor. Macron will prevail by a lesser margin but he will.
bert (Hartford, CT)
Funambulist! Sounds like a sleepwalker who's enjoying himself. I have always admired Roger Cohen, and now I am indebted to him for enlarging my vocabulary. May he long continue to walk the tightrope of being an American commentator abroad. His high-wire act in that capacity has kept many of us enthralled -- and edified -- for years.
Corkpop (Reims)
The feeling here in France is pretty much, if the vaccination really speeds up and the general population lowers its reticence to this solution then shops, bars and restaurants will reopen. If Macron can make that happen rapidement and tailors his communication to bring out the vote he will win. The election will be decided on the speed of opening the CHR ( cafés, hotels and restaurants) and la joie de vivre that follows. The French for the most part are sullen and pessimistic but when it comes to food and drink the are for me, for me, for me formidable.
Blanche White (South Carolina)
If the EU and Britain do not come to terms with the fact that people don't mind immigration in numbers sufficient to integrate and when immigrants are selected to be a benefit to the host Countries, then democracy will unravel as the changes make the locals feel overwhelmed. That's the message that is being sent by the growth of le Pen's party. It should be heard and respected and it seems Macron is trying to do that as he reassesses the terrorist threats in France. Because of this immigration issue, we have had four years of an incompetent and immoral man who has caused the deaths of tens of thousands and created constant upheaval. We are so thankful to have escaped the clutches of the former guy but it doesn't seem that Mr. Biden has learned the lesson of Macron on the subject of immigration. It is worrying to see the tone deafness of our new administration. I will be watching to see what the French decide.
Chloe (Colorado)
He's definitely someone I'll be watching the next few months. I prefer him over Le Pen.
Christian (Manchester)
His recent criticism of the AstraZeneca vaccine was shameful and has contributed to its slow uptake in Europe.
Spider (Scotland)
@Christian Indeed. My comments expressing the same sentiment are waiting approval - 8hrs and counting.
Anne Reboul (France)
Macron was elected not because people wanted him (if the right had had a decent candidate, it would have had a triumphal election because of the poor show Pdt Hollande made of his five years in power), but because they didn’t want Marine Le Pen, the far right candidate. I think that, despite the fact that no one was surprised by Macron’s economic free-market approach, few people (even on the right) wanted it. He has proved himself to be authoritarian (this degree of police brutality has seldom been seen since WWII), he has imposed measures that struck people as unfair and he has shown a degree of incompetence in dealing with the Covid pandemics that has left people flabbergasted (while not at Trump, Bolsonaro or the first Boris Johnson’s dire level, it is still seen as incompetent and amateurish). He is betting for his reelection on the same rejection of Marine Le Pen. It may work, because people do not want Le Pen now anymore than they did four years ago. Equally, it may not, because he is so disliked that people may massively abstain rather than vote for him even under the threat of having a right wing government, each of them hoping that there will be others that will vote for him to avoid a catastrophe, but not wanting to do it themselves. Most people have been voting for most of their lives not for a presidential candidate, but against the other choice. And they are rightly fed up with it. Hidalgo is a new factor and may change the equation, though.
History Guy (Connecticut)
I almost fear writing this, but France, along with the U.S., Britain, Germany, and Italy, are fundamental to maintaining some semblance of "liberal" democracy to counterbalance China's aggressive, deceitful, and simplistic autocracy. I hope the French will not veer too far rightward in the next election and reelect Macron, though I worry. China will stop at no end to pursue its false agenda. Covid 19, the country's monumentally horrific gift to the world, has forced it to become more aggressive.
Maureen (New York)
Macron Earned his Masters degree “with a thesis on Machiavelli and Hegel. He became wealthy as an investment banker at Rothschild. It should hardly be surprising that he is assiduously continuing to serve the financial interests of big business - he actually is another form of a Ronald Reagan - seeking to quietly dismantle and diminish as much of the safety net as he can and still remain in power. Maybe this time the French people will take a long cold look at this student of Machiavelli -
John LeBaron (MA)
Hate and fear are fraternal, if not identical, twins. One feeds the other. They are inseparable.
Sophie (France)
Macron will face next year, as he did four years ago, the French Trump. The so-called left didn't support him then as much as some of them, not all though, chose democracy over the daughter of a well known racist and nationalist. Four years later, the yellow vests who in France -and in this opinion piece- are said to represent the poorest of the poorest but in the US would be representing the less educated -racists, adepts to conspiracies theories...) , have tried and succeeded or not in invading and destroying national landmarks, official buildings and private properties, while the so-called left supported or at the best excused them. France isn't the US, our social system should and could prevent extrem proverty if the so-called left did focus on eliminating it i/o pretending our middle class is in danger, which is not. Our middle class - so-called leftist- is supporting extremists in order to get a bit more money for themselves, which they always get depriving the poorest in real need from getting out of poverty. The so-called left refuse to acknowledge real left measures taken by Macron and cultivate this ridiculous idea of anger and fear the middle class should feel. By doing so, the Trump nightmare is becoming day after day a little more real in France because the so-called left and so-called leftist-middle class is likely next year to stay home i/o chosing democracy over the French Trump. So sad and scary.
Michael Green (Brooklyn)
What are the greatest issues facing France? Immigration and demographic changes from differing fertility rates. Trade deficits. Jobs for the working class. If you support "redefining" France, Macron is the man for you. His move to the right, tightening immigration, restricting China trade, and protecting jobs is a illusion. He was force to change his positions to avoid losing to LePen. He hasn't really changed. He doesn't care for France or the French people. He wants to create something new, with different people and no borders.
Joel (Canada)
French politics are pretty hard to follow from afar. So thanks for this article discussing Macron prospects next year. France is a very hard to govern country, it has lots of assets but a relatively declining economic power. Attempts at modernizing the rules of the game to promote more entrepreneurial appetites are always met with strong resistance. In truth this resistance is important to prevent France to become to much like the US. Finding a balance approach to preserving a strong social net, paying for it and competing economically with the world (at least for a large fraction of GDP) requires mad skills. Selling the compromise is even tougher [ French are pragmatic but they also love to point out how far reality is from their ideal]. May be the world will reach some "post work" utopia in the next 50 years, if it is the case the french will be most ready for it.
Outerboro (Brooklyn)
Macron is a French speaking incarnation of Bill Clinton. Macron, like Clinton, is a skilled political tactician, although all of his tactics are in service to keeping himself popular, not to achieve any overarching strategy. Admittedly, France is a declining power, itself situated within a region (Europe) that is being superceded on the World Stage. Still, Macron has managed to accrue much centralized political power, and within the constraints of France's curtailed role, there is still much good that he can achieve. But to do that, to act in the best interests of France, he must ironically be willing to sacrifice his own Political ambitions. For Macron to succeed, he will truly need to thread his Tightrope through the eye of a needle.
SOCALITE (Palm Springs)
Excellent panoramic review of the current political situation ahead of the 2022 French presidential election in my opinion. Roger Cohen hardly mentions the left prospects and rightly so. And yet, one gets the sense that if the left could agree on a dynamic and determined candidate (not unlike Macron in 2017), they could push Macron or Le Pen aside in the first round, and have a good chance of winning, probably a sure thing against Le Pen. But it's a big "if". Mélenchon might have to step aside; the Greens would have to convince everyone that it's their turn, as they believe it is, but for that they would need to find their own "Macron" quickly (there are candidates); and, then, there's the recently and easily reelected Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, mentioned by Cohen, who has shown some animus against Macron right from the start. That would be a nasty and interesting fight. Perhaps that's what Macron deserves.
Carlos Fernandez Liebana (Brussels)
Very remarkable article. It truly captures Macron's ambivalence. His way of welding power and his desperate will to erase differences between the moderate Right and Left and unite them to his project. The French have an iconoclast trend. They want a strong President and at the same time they love to criticise him precisely because of his strong ways. Macron's is only the last example of this. I wish him well but, alas, I am not French. Like you, I am only an spectator.
AR (Paris, France)
Macron's ambivalence on ideology and key issues facing the nation is a reflection of the current state of French society. For the first time in the Fifth Republic, the coming elections are not couched in ideological terms. The few issues that seemed to galvanize the French such as Islamist separatism or Islamo-gauchism turned out to be mere slogans of interest only to the elite intellectuals always hungry for polemics. Macron is likely to win the next election -barring any unforeseen and momentous events- by default. Both the right and left parties are hopelessly divided. The only challenge to Macron will come from the RN and Le Pen. His recent turn to the right on certain issues will strengthen his position and make it easier to repeat his victory over her as he did last time around.
Lou (Anytown, USA)
Being married to a Frenchperson allows me to generalize. The French wouldn't be French if they didn't give their president (or their spouse) a hard time. While they seemingly want everything they will happily settle on what is practical. If, at election time, you can still get a baguette, a bottle of wine and some Camembert for less than 4 Euros I think Macron might get another term.
Joseph (Ile de France)
@Lou That's what every outgoing president thinks until they lose. Your oversimplification does an injustice to the actual dangers of living in France right now, denial of systemic racism, a totally botched response to COVID which includes the vaccine rollout, and a shift to the hard right-all by the current president. The only thing Marcon has going for him is that there is no real challenger again except Le Pen, but his shift right is digging into her support. France and its identity, which we hear way too much about, is now trapped in the past as its intellectuals and white leaders waste time blaming America for importing the idea that a functioning democracy should actually evolve and respond to the changing ideas and needs of the citizens it serves.
SJP (Europe)
This looks a lot like the conditions that led to Trump's elections: many moderate and left-leaning electors staying home and opening the way to victory for a populist far-right candidate. Perhaps we should also ad to this mix the effect of some news channels like CNEWS in France, which like Foxnews and OAN, are openly supporting the far-right in France. More worrying even is Mr Zemmour, a journalist on that channel, who does not shy away from polemics about Muslims and whose shows draws large audiences, and who might very well run for president next time.
alex (here and there)
I like him: firm, modern and intelligent. I can't imagine having another Chirac or Mitterand at the helm is what the French want, although I'm not sure they actually know what's good for them.
Jacques BOSSONNEY (Paris)
We know what it is good for us. What the article fails to paint is the vacuum of the opposition facing Macron. The economic policies of Le Pen are still a disaster, Melenchon’s response to anything is NO and Les Républicains have no leadership. We are somehow protected from a Trump-like election with our two rounds for the presidential elections
Macron is probably unsuited for the job. In addition, French socialism is seemly unworkable. The country’s economics seemingly are always in turmoil regardless of who is president.
Jacques BOSSONNEY (Paris)
Stop the partisan rhetoric. Macron is over qualified for the job. Happy with what you had in the US and still do in Texas when it comes to under-qualified? From the people who brought you “No heat and No Electricity” here comes “No mask”.
marrtyy (manhattan)
He’s obviously too smart for the job. He asks too many questions. And at the same time not wily enough to play the political game. And doesn’t ask enough questions. Good combination. He’s revitalized a slumbering country. And at the same time moving them into the 20th... ok 21st century.
KennethWmM (Paris)
Macron’s head is on the block and he knows it. He has proven himself to be ill-equipped to deal with the gilets jaunes, trade unions, immigration, unsettled overseas affairs, Covid management and national unity. When he faces these unsolved difficulties, he retreats into imperial symbolism, with decor, makeup, hair and furnishings as his identifying accoutrements. He does not know how to lead France.
Joseph (Ile de France)
@KennethWmM Agreed, but who is equipped?
Ampleforth (Airstrip One)
There will be one more round of Anyone But Le Pen. Then Le Pen will win. Not Marine. The neice. Marion Marechal.
Pedrito (Paris - France)
@Ampleforth Marion Marechal is the REAL danger for the French republic in the coming years. She is young, smart, lovely, educated and she broke with the party years ago. She founded and manges a (very)right-wing politic university in Lyon. She is very popular in the south of the country. And she is FAR right. Well, for France, I mean. In the US she would be a gifted Republican politician among others : pro-christian, pro-life, pro-white, anti-islam, social conservative values, etc.
Ricardo (France)
In 1,100 years, France had very few good kings. The country currently has a decent government when compared to those before. Until Macron, every president of the Fifth Republic was worse than his predecessor. No longer. So Macron should easily win reelection. But it won't be easy. The French have been more cocooned during Covid than people in almost any other country. The numbers on income and unemployment show it and, as an example, I know of a few restaurant owners making more during lockdown from handouts than they did before. Still, the French are the unrivaled leaders in "morosité" in Europe right now. I am still hoping that something more positive than a choice between "hate" and "fear", as the article concludes, will emerge in the next 14 months.
The Observer (Pennsylvania)
Macron may not have satisfied most on the left of the spectrum, but what choice the left has? Marine Le pen? The French must realize that no leader is perfect and will deliver them all they aspire for. Macron has maintained the image of France as a significant counterweight against Trump and his America first philosophy with his rational balanced position. He surely enhanced the image of France for which most Frenchmen should feel proud. I think the French will be lucky to have him for another term and not flirt with the lure of one like Marine Le Pen.
Antoine Reininger (Paris)
Indeed. It is amazing to see the differences in perception inside and outside of France. A lot of people here are not aware of what he did for the image of the country on the world scene, especially in the Trump era. Conversely, a lot of people outside of France don’t get how he really disappointed a lot of people for not following up on his seeming ability to listen and talk to everyone, and how in the end he’s turned into another monarch, refining the « langue de bois » to another level
Fjolivet (Paris)
Remember he is not a career politician. He never had party affiliation. He is first and foremost pragmatic as opposed to dogmatic as well as intellectual.
Richard Steele (Los Angeles)
Try governing, folks. Macron, like his Western counterparts, can never be all things to all people. It is naive to suggest that Macron has betrayed the left in France, anymore than California's governor, Gavin Newsom has bungled the state's handling of the COVID-19 crisis. In the age of digital anger, it's easy to make sport of all politicians. If Macron wins a second term, it will be a victory for the sensible center of governance.
WOID (New York and Vienna)
Amazing. First Christopher Caldwell's defense of the French Establishment's McCarthyite attacks on the University. Now Roger Cohen fantasizing Macron as some type of liberal-progressive. Newsflash: Macron has moved so far to the Right, first in attempting to wipe out the social safety net, second in playing the Culture Wars card, that his chances of being re-elected are practically null at this point. One left-of-center newspaper recently pointed out that given a choice between Macron and Le Pen, many voters on the Left will simply refuse this time to save him, once again, so small is now the difference between the two. This drove Macron and his advisers into a frenzy. I'm sure, when the election comes around, that Cohen and the others will be trying to put the blame on the "Mélenchon Bros." Didn't work too well last time, did it?
Lola Fernandez (Paris/NY)
The real issue, as the French newspaper Libération, pointed out a few days ago is that the left may not show up for Mr Macron again, even if that means a Le Pen victory. Mr Macron, in his 2017 campaign, portrayed himself as “neither right nor left” candidate but in truth he’s governed as “really right” president... Many of his Ministers (especially the Minister of the Interior) aren’t really helping his case. In a recent debate with Marine Le pen about terrorism and laïcité (France’s favorite topic alongside cancel culture it seems these days, alas), Macron’s Interior Minister basically agreed with her. He’s also suggested banning Halal and Kosher aisles in supermarkets because they apparently promote so-called separatism. Mr. Macron should be worried about his lack of support from the left, but most importantly he ought to remind left leaning voters of the stakes. I remember many Democrats sat out 2016... I’d bet all of them regret that decision... As a Franco-American, I can’t help but notice the troubling parallels between my two counties.. I sincerely hope I’m wrong...
s.chubin (Geneva)
@Lola Fernandez As you know and deftly argue the left only hurts itself by sitting out the election. Voting is for themselves not "him".
Overpopulation (Washington, DC)
@Lola Fernandez. Halal and Kosher should not be banned *only* from ‘supermarkets’. Unless whoever claims to speak for these religions in France finally accepts stunning (rendering animals insensible to pain) prior to slaughter. Other countries have done it, and the European Court of Justice agreed last December that governments can ban methods of slaughter that expose animals to unnecessary pain. Ritual slaughter without stunning should also be banned in the US. It is constitutionally feasible - but Congress will never do it.
Alec (USA)
If only we were as fortunate in the US to have a politician with the intellect of President Macron . I predict that he sails to reelection next year especially if his only opponent is the Neo Fascist LePen.
Lois Lettini (Arlington, TX)
@Alec France would be the nation of choice for me to move to. Civilized is the word that sums it up.
Pedrito (Paris - France)
@Alec I totall agree with you on the "Neo-Fascist" label. Le Pen is dangerous. But, as a French, I am always amazed to realize that American people do not get on thing when they talk about the Le Pen family: The Rassemblement National (new name of National Front) has a more progressive agenda than the vast majority of the moderate US republican politicians... In France the values shared by right wing of the GOP would be far too extreme for the hardliners in Rassemblement National. Just saying...
Overpopulation (Washington, DC)
@Alec. Problem is not that she is a “neo-fascist” (she definitely isn’t), but that she is not the sharpest mind around and will inevitably fail again if she has to debate Macron before the second round.
Maureen (New York)
“Mr. Macron earned an unwanted sobriquet: “President of the Rich.”“ What else would anyone reasonably expect? The man was educated with (and for) the monied elites. He built a successful career making the wealthy even more wealthy and powerful. Maybe the French people will finally decide to elect a government that moves in a different direction.
Robroy (Portsmouth, NH)
As an American living in France through the Macron era, I have always enjoyed watching him speak, so clearly and well-composed and seeming like he’s actually trying to do some good for his people. Many of my French friends, typically, don’t feel too positive about him, but I have always thought they don’t know how good they have it. All politicians have downsides, but I hope he wins another term.
David (Montreal)
Well said
Joy Mars (Provence)
I have written the same to critics on social media. Especially with tRump across the pond, I argued that the French didn’t know how good they have it. I didn’t get very far! My take is that the French love to hate power, but they line up to vote along very practical lines when the time comes. It’s like the polls reporting the French are skeptical about vaccines. All I see is everyone desperate for them.
Lois Lettini (Arlington, TX)
@David Repeating the remark i just made. France would be the country I would want to move to. "Civilized" describes this country and people.
Clarence Wong (Michigan)
The persistent criticism of Macron is he has no predictable signature set of beliefs. He defies easy labels—centrist, left, right. I have to wonder how important is this criticism compared with the results he has produced on behalf of his country. The article says, “Reform followed, of the French labor code, of the heavily subsidized French rail system, of the tax code. Unemployment, over 10 percent in 2016, fell sharply until the virus struck. Foreign investment boomed. He got a stubborn country to budge.” This is no small list achievement in less than 4 years in office. I watched the biopic “Emmanuel Macron: les coulisses d'une victoire” and came away impressed with Macron’s intelligence, polish and political savvy. Most of all, I was impressed with his earnest desire to do something good for France and with his courage to pursue difficult change.
Cogito Ergo Sum (NYC)
Why is Macron celebrated and talk so much about? As a European he impresses me very little- too much dichotomy, more of divider rather than unifier, flirting with the absolutism of french superiority and playing god for countries and people at the fringes of EU...
Ricardo (France)
@Cogito Ergo Sum Not true. Why would he be the first to reach out toe Algeria to seek reconciliation (probably impossible for now, sadly)? Algeria is the deepest scar from France's colonial history. He takes risks at the fringes of Europe (Greece/Turkey, Sahel, Syria), but not to impose French superiority. It is more that others are refusing to step up to the plate.
Purity of (Essence)
The EU does not equal Europe. The three largest cities in Europe are London, Moscow, and Istanbul. None of them are located in the EU. Can Macron change the EU? Only if the Germans are willing to cooperate.
Colette (Brooklyn)
Seems like you are confusing Europe the continent and the European Union. The article refers to the latest.
Overpopulation (Washington, DC)
@Purity of. I beg your pardon, but Paris’ urban area is more populated than London’s (10.9 million vs 9.0, UN 2018). I’ll grant you that the order is reversed if you consider the larger metropolitan areas (14.4 vs 12.2) but I prefer the other metric. Also, Istanbul can hardly be called a European city. Physically, it straddles Europe and Asia Minor. Culturally, it definitely is part of the ME.
Pedrito (Paris - France)
@Purity of Moscow and Istanbul are not European cities... They are capitals of major countries at our gates. If Macron could change Europe without the cooperation of Germany, it should not be named Europe, but France...
Eric (Belmont)
Macron has a foil. My sense is he benefits from Sarkozy’s corruption. Leading the European experiment he rotates onto a larger stage. He’ll win re election because the voter wants a leader, and he seems skilled at playing the game.
David (Montreal)
I will always have a soft spot for Macron for what he does on the international stage, and for humiliating Le Pen during the debates. You may not like him, but he saved France from Trumpism 5 years ago
D.A.Oh (Middle America)
Well the French did, didn't they? Many got behind Macron not because they liked him but because he was the last chance to keep Cruella LePen from power. Much like America just voted for Biden. If not these two men, then whoever else was next available would have won the vote.
Alex (LA)
@David He brought France Trumpism. You’re not paying attention. Macron is like Trump and Le Pen is further right than any public figure in the USA.
Alan Singer (HI USA)
Macron will succeed if enough French (and Global) citizens realize that liberty, fraternity and equality (in law, etc.) should be their main priorities and goals for the future; with their family-based ancient rituals and stories taking a much lower priority in their lives and emotions.
Jean (Vancouver)
The French moto doesn't mean you gave to give up traditions and family...quiet the contrary...nor does one should equate Equality with equity...which is everything France stand against.
Overpopulation (Washington, DC)
@Jean. France stands against equity? Hardly. In fact that is precisely how the French understand equality: equality of rights, equality of opportunity, but not equality of results (only the hard left still wants that).
Matthew (New York)
I've always believed Macron to be a Liberal but a pragmatist. Without his deliberate rightward tilt in the last year he could all but kiss the presidency away to Marine le-pen. If an ardent defense of the french identity is what it takes to prevent a far right anti-Europe nationalist from taking power, President Macron has made the right choice.
Michael (Paris)
@Matthew Completely agree. As someone living in France, his actions appear to be those of someone making the best of the current situation as well as accepting the political reality of France, which if not more fragmented than the US, is far harder to categorize.
Londoner (London)
@Matthew I think you're suggesting that his espousing of a distinct French position within the EU is essentially insincere. I suspect that is the case. He's using the right now in the same way as one of the contributors in the article said that he used the left in his last election. I'm afraid this is a sad reflection of our times - a leader effectively using both sides with the ultimate aim to further his own agenda. Perhaps to further his personal ultimate ambition too because I would not be surprised if he sees the EU commission and perhaps its presidency as his ultimate goal - a position where he need not trouble himself any longer with the inconvenience of elections or democratic accountability.
Paul Dejean (Austin)
@Matthew what would have better for preventing far right candidates from gaining power, would be if violent executions in front of schools were prevented to begin with.
See also