I have little to say of value about this speech. He’s still King Macron. In his speech to the Congress at the palace of Louis XIV – the ‘Sun King’ – in Versailles, he spoke as though the country were in the midst of a national crisis. Macron threatened to overrule lawmakers with a referendum if they try to frustrate the “reforms” he wishes to impose on France. Such assemblies are usually reserved for times of national crisis and the tone of the speech was also very strange more; like a general telling the country how things would be after a military coup than a newly elected president of a republic speaking to an elected national assembly.
A strange thing, indeed. He told the deputies, the majority of whom came to Paris specially to serve him, that if they refuse to obey him, he will go to the country with referendums. Here’s my question: Why bring up the subject at all? What is the aim, especially since, as I said, most of these members seem to be have no political or philosophical beliefs, except for their belief in Macron as their leader? Why insult them? Is it possible that Macon knows something we do not?
But if the agenda of Macron is so toxic that it cannot be propelled even with using Article 49-3, what does this bode for the future? This would certainly be a test that would allow us to better gauge whether the landslide victory of Macron was linked to his personal charisma or something else entirely.
Macron has certainly been the beneficiary of a unique confluence of circumstances that saw the collapse of the entirely left of French politics. I attribute the destruction of the PS to the rise of radical center under Hollande. The destruction that Macron’s allies François Hollande and Manuel Valls inflicted on the Socialist Party has been total. They quite simply burnt the most significant party of the center-left to the ground and then laughed as they walked away from the smoldering ruin.
Likewise, the National Front and the UMP/LR were destroyed by their respective leaders who were unable to control their inner demons and, of course, by their party rivals who were prepared to win or lose everything in a death match. And the result was that both parties have also been reduced to ashes. The result was a incoherent and immobilized far right and a vacuum in the political space from the right to the center-left; a vacuum which Macron rushed in to fill.
I have always maintained that there was no appetite for centrism in France. But there is a powerful argument that the rapid rise of Macron, a self-proclaimed centrist, to a position of unmatched power means that I am wrong. There is much ambiguity about the result of the election given the incapacity of the parties of the left and right, combined with a well justified revulsion at the thought of a president Marine Le Pen.
But if Macron is forced, for some reason that I can’t envision, to go to the people, then we’ll have something much closer to a true test of the popular appeal of radical centrism because such an “up or down” vote on actual policies would not depend on the health of political parties, but rather a direct judgment on the merits of centrism. This could get interesting!