The young President’s landslide victory in the presidential elections and the absolute majority he won during the ensuing parliamentary elections bring home the need for Emmanuel Macron to make the most of this grace period in order to launch a comprehensive reform programme. With his newly-founded party “La République en marche” he has swept aside the traditional parliamentary parties either side of the centre and begun to dismantle the fossilised political system. It will be no mean task to drag French society out of the doldrums.
Macron’s ascent could be compared to that of Cicero who, from very humble beginnings, was elected consul in Rome in 64 B.C. at the age of forty. He took power in a bid to get Rome’s long-feuding parties to work together and thus take the destiny of the Empire in hand in harmony with the people (‘concordia ordinum’) and secure peace at home and abroad. Circero success was due to his natural charisma and his ability to speak to the people. Furthermore, his image was untarnished by electoral battles. Surely this applies equally to Macron?
President Macron’s inauguration ceremony was royally staged, and his first foray on the international scene with the Russian President and the US President was masterful. On 3 July 2017, his speech to Congress – both Houses of Parliament sitting in Versailles – on the very spot where Emperor Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte convened Parliament for the first time in 1848 to deliver his report on the state of the nation as required by the Constitution, was both imperial and Gaullist in tone. Macron bowing to Parliament? More striking was his allegiance to the founder of the Vth Republic, General de Gaulle, who set the direction that Macron also wants to follow: establishing firm political guidelines while letting the Prime Minister govern, in accordance with the Constitution.
Emmanuel Macron found himself the new hope of the nation although making no bones about the fact that it was not going to be easy to pull French society out of its stagnant stage. His leitmotiv is dignity. President Macron has set out to reconcile the French and instil in them a new sense of France’s historical significance and greatness which can only come from stability at home and a strong united Europe. He has outlined his vision of a better Europe while stating his determination to fulfil France’s commitments to the EU in the interests of credibility. But now time has come to explain to the French society his master plan.
Internally, sound judgement will be called for from a government seeking both to be close to the people and to involve the political elites, of which some lost their influence in the last election, if the process designed to transform society is to succeed.
To meet new external challenges, Europe needs a strong, open, cooperative and self-confident France. Macron has the charisma to create a new image for France and to move France and Europe forward, with reliable partners on the continent.
Hartmut Bühl, Editor-in-chief