The indictment of senior executives, complacency with the Rassemblement National, multiple use of article 49.3 of the constitution, climate inaction… Since his re-election, Emmanuel Macron has continued to break with his commitments and to derail his own narrative of a mandate under the sign of renewal.
He promised to respect the left-wing voters who made his re-election possible. To set himself up as a bulwark against the extreme right. To make ecology the compass of his action. To be exemplary, to propose a new democratic method. In eight months of his new presidency, Emmanuel Macron has already thrown most of his commitments overboard.
89 RN deputies are having good time in the parliament and sometimes vote for his projects, the climate catastrophe is being plugged with a few greenwashing measures, new affairs are splashing the Elysée, including suspicions of electoral fraud with the help of McKinsey, and Elisabeth Borne is in the midst of an attempt to break the 49.3 record [so often she used this constitutional paragraph allowing to push a state decision without the parliamentary debate and agreement – transl.]. All this while trying to maintain the illusion of “consultation” in order to better impose an intense programme of regressions, from the refusal of wage increases to the reduction of the rights of the unemployed, including the postponement of the retirement age to 65 years or the crackdown on migrants planned for the autumn.
Here’s an overview of Jupiter’s failures.
Welcome to the RN
“This vote obliges me”. To those who elected him to block Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron made a promise, on the evening of April 24. The oath would not even last until the parliamentary elections. Fearing the left, caricatured as a child-eating red witch since the creation of the Nupes, the Macronie renounces the republican barrage that made it queen.
“Faced with the extremes, we will not give anything to either side,”
this is what the Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne had to say about the 59 duels between Nupes and the Rassemblement National in the second round.
The result: 89 RN deputies are now in the Palais Bourbon. They are soon be favoured by the Macronie. On 29 June, for the first time in the Fifth Republic, the far-right obtained two of the five vice-presidencies of the Assembly. Sébastien Chenu and Hélène Laporte received 290 and 284 votes out of 577. One month later, the president of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, chose a former Front National member, Caroline Colombier, rather than a Nupes or Republican deputy for the parliamentary intelligence delegation, subject to defence secrecy… The same week, Frank Giletti (RN) was appointed rapporteur for the air force budget, another key post.
In a few months, Emmanuel Macron has made the RN a parliamentary opponent like any other, installed and legitimate. On the texts of law, if the official line is to work only at the minimum with the extreme right, Renaissance has been able to count on the lepénistes to retract the proposals of the left, in particular on purchasing power, as well as to vote his laws, on the programme of the Ministry of the Interior, for example.
And the immigration law, which is due to be presented in mid-January with, as its flagship measure, the toughening of deportations, the return of the double penalty and temporary “jobs in demand” residence permits, could break new dikes.
An exemplary Republic, you say?
In Emmanuel Macron’s kingdom, conflicts of interest are sovereign.
“Who does not have a problem with the judiciary or the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP) in this government?”
said the head of the PS, Olivier Faure, on Twitter, during the latest case to date, that of the former minister Caroline Cayeux in late November.
For the deputy Ugo Bernalicis (La France Insoumise), it is indeed a “mafia-like drift of power” that is emerging. From the close ties of Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of Energy Transition, with an oil company to the indictment of the Secretary General of the Elysée, Alexis Kohler, and the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, for “illegal taking of interest”, through the McKinsey scandal, which affects the head of state himself, this second Macron quinquennium is marked by a festival of affairs.
And, with this new quinquennium, all, or almost all, remain in office, since only Caroline Cayeux is an exception. The former minister for local authorities ended up resigning, after being nailed by the High Authority for “false evaluation of her assets” and “tax fraud”. Already in vogue during the previous mandate, the public/private shuttles – the famous pantouflages – remain fashionable in the Macronie, with numerous round trips between cabinets, ministries and large companies. This is a kind of “entre-soi” and a mixture of genres that is conducive to conflicts of interest.
“A minister must leave the government when he or she is indicted”, declared candidate Macron in 2017. Five years later, the promise of an exemplary Republic has definitely gone up in smoke.
A “new method” as vertical as ever
The one who said in 2017 “to assume the verticality of power” did not deny himself in 2022, although he praised a “new method of governance” called, according to him, by the relative majority obtained in the legislative. Result: ten uses of paragraph 49.3 to force through the budget and the financing of the Social Security system. And the government does not skimp on passing the quid to the opposition. In the eyes of Elisabeth Borne, voting against social regression and for wage increases would mean leaving the “Republican arc”.
Never short of cynicism, the Prime Minister even said: “Why are you so afraid of the debate?” before putting an end to it with her favourite constitutional weapon.
To give the change and body to the “dialogue”, the Macronie multiplies the “consultations” that follow one another and look alike, with citizens, professionals and unions. These are the National Council for Refoundation (CNR), consultations for the reform of unemployment insurance, for which the unions were surprised to discover even more regressive measures on the eve of Christmas, or for the reform of pensions… Bodies that have aroused the enthusiasm of only a few Macronist thurifers.
As with the citizens’ climate convention and the betrayed promise of an “unfiltered” application of its proposals, the Macronist method remains the same: the debate is open… as long as it falls within the perimeter pre-established by the majority. The rest is the prerogative of the “extremes”. The executive, the sole captain of its plane, continues to fly alone.
The sketch of frugality
Candidate Emmanuel Macron had promised: “This five-year period will be ecological or it will not be.” And if the last few months are anything to go by, this mandate will, like the previous one, be more about greenwashing. The President of the Republic has nevertheless assured us that he has “doubled his efforts” against global warming. The justice system is waiting for proof of this action by 31 December, before obliging (or not) the State to pay fines.
And ecology necessarily means frugality. This is the priority issue of an era hit by the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis that partly stems from it. In this respect, the Macronie has tried to be exemplary this winter: Elisabeth Borne no longer leaves her down jacket, the ministers – starting with Bruno Le Maire – have put on turtlenecks, the deputy Gilles Le Gendre “no longer uses the tumble dryer”. But, fortunately, the government did not stop there. On 6 October last, faced with the risk of power cuts, nine ministers sounded the “general mobilisation” during the presentation of the frugality plan. Fifteen measures to “reduce our consumption by 10% (compared to 2019 – editor’s note) by 2024”, in the words of Elisabeth Borne.
Result: a pile of small gestures that reflect the absence of ecological planning.
The semblance of organization has not even prevented the cacophony at the top of the state, with several ministers waving the spectre of cuts. But, for Emmanuel Macron, the cup was full when an Enedis [French network of electricity distribution – transl.] official said on television that people on respiratory assistance would not be “a priority”.
“The role of the government, the ministers, the operators, is to do their job to provide energy, that’s all,” he scolded.
It’s not to start scaring people with absurd scenarios and things like I’ve heard.
Proof that, even when it comes to communication, which is the ultimate test in Macronia, nothing has been planned.
Jupiter in international orbit
The President of the Republic behaves like a royal. Is this a sign of a five-year period in line with the spirit of the Fifth Republic? The hyper-president’s reorientation towards foreign policy certainly does not date from his re-election. With the war in Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron quickly became a diplomatic leader, partly abandoning national politics. But the semi-failure of Renaissance in the legislative elections accelerated the process.
The new parliamentary game and the relative majority leave him a much less free field than during the first quinquennium – he therefore leaves current affairs to Elisabeth Borne and dreams, according to the Canard enchaîné, of a Nobel Peace Prize.
“Where I am most useful is to carry out diplomatic work. And diplomacy is to speak with people with whom we do not agree and try to reduce these gaps, to do useful work,”
he explained in October to France Inter, questioned on his maintenance of a diplomatic channel with Russia.
Algeria, Tunisia, Indonesia, Romania, Thailand, Albania, the United States … in six months, the president has burned paraffin, with about twenty countries visited. As a diplomat, but also sometimes as a warlord. Like on December 20, when, unable to parade with the World Cup alongside the Blues, defeated in Qatar, he donned the uniform of the navy to offer himself a sequence on the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, in the Red Sea. To get a feel for the general? After all, if we take the Constitution literally, the president must indeed play the role of referee and guarantor of the institutions, stand above the partisan fray, and leave national policy to the prime minister.
Emmanuel Macron is not quite there. On several occasions, he has reminded everyone who has the upper hand. Like on pensions. The announcement of the postponement of the presentation of the reform came from the Élysée Palace. Jupiter may be in international orbit, but his gaze does not leave Paris.
This text has been first published in French by l’Humanite, who is Cross-Border Talks’ partner within the Media Alliance animated by transform!italia. It has been translated into English by Małgorzata Kulbaczewska-Figat.