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Emmanuel Macron, destroyer of worlds His technocratic utopia is crumbling

"'Je prends mon risque,' he repeated." (MATHIEU CUGNOT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

"'Je prends mon risque,' he repeated." (MATHIEU CUGNOT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)


June 15, 2024   9 mins

A much-shared video, recorded on Tuesday in the European Parliament corridors by Tomio Okamura, a right-wing Czech party leader, shows him with Dutch BVV leader Geert Wilders, Italian La Lega’s Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen, all colleagues in the Identity and Democracy group of, yes, populist Right-wingers. All are wreathed in smiles, two days after Euro-elections that favoured them, continent-wide, at the expense of the Left and the Centre. They are joking about Macron’s probable trouncing come the 7 July second-round of the snap general election the French president called after his party only got 15% of the vote in the European elections. “He was very useful to us!”, Wilders jokes. “Yes, we’re going to miss him!” Le Pen, whose National Rally came first with a third of the vote, laughs.

This is the new political reality in Europe. Macron immediately announced a snap legislative election, to be held in a mere three weeks’ time. His high-risk electoral gamble was called barely an hour after polling stations closed, at 9:00pm Sunday night, when the size of the Jordan Bardella-led National Rally list’s victory became clear. The Rassemblement had come first in 93% of France’s 36,000 villages, towns and cities, adding up to a third of the national vote from 38 separate lists.

Macron called in, besides half a dozen of his Cabinet heavyweights, the speakers of both National Assembly and Senate, who are required to record the dissolution of the House. Le PrĂ©sident (who since Charles de Gaulle is elected separately) had planned his decision secretly, taking into his confidence only four people: his former spin doctor, now the vice-president of Publicis, France’s largest ad agency; Pierre Charon, an old-style Sarkozyste senator; Richard Ferrand, the first Macroniste Speaker of the National Assembly, a former Socialist; and a former journalist turned speechwriter and Brigitte Macron’s closest adviser, Bruno Roger-Petit. No member of this informal war council was known to the electorate, unless they have a passion for the workings of power in Paris; and none was likely to contradict him. The dissimulation, the mercurial decision, the small court of the ultrafaithful: all of this was typical of Macron’s style.

Less predictable were their reactions: possibly for the first time since his 2017 election, he was told to his face he was wrong. Both PM Gabriel Attal, named only five months before, and the current National Asssembly Speaker, YaĂ«l Braun-Pivet were shocked and angry. In what universe did Macron think he had any chance of winning a legislative election? Attal, already fallen from grace at Court in recent weeks, now shouted at his boss that he was “irresponsible”. (“They didn’t come to blows, but it was close”, a witness said.)

Braun-Pivet, a former barrister and the only one of Macron’s women appointees to have grown into her job (Macron has always had a woman problem: his close circle is entirely male, save for his wife Brigitte; his female hires were either nonentities, or odd enough that they became unthreatening) argued he had said he would remain in office after what was, after all, a non-national, vote, and that not sticking it out would harm his Cabinet and his party. Others, including Home Secretary GĂ©rald Darmanin, who had expected to spend half the summer overseeing the security challenges of the Paris 2024 Olympics, concurred: it would be a disaster.

Macron, faced with the mice that roared, was unfazed. As in the past seven years of his rule, he wasn’t asking for their advice, merely telling them. He then went on TV, dressed like a provincial undertaker, saying that a new vote would be more “democratic”, and gave the dates for the two rounds.

“Je prends mon risque,” he repeated. This is an odd, favourite expression of his that belongs to the roulette table or the poker game: the fate of the nation reduced to a high-stakes personal gamble.

What soon became obvious was the speed trap he had set for everyone. Electoral law dictates a strict timetable for when the candidates for all 577 constituencies must be identified, each with the name of a political party or alliance. In this instance, everything had to be sorted on Thursday night, in a fractured landscape where the need to come to an agreement  forced together incompatible political partners. Those were concluded, and platforms published in time to be sent to every single voter in the country — looking like forced marriages, with party programmes that read like prenups.

So far, so Succession. The Left-wing Alliance, improbably calling itself the New Popular Front, in reference to the 1936 LĂ©on Blum Cabinet, brings together people who have weekly chanted “From the River to The Sea” (and sometimes “Death to Jews”), with that rump of the old-style Socialist Party that lit up the Paris City Hall and the Eiffel Tower with the Israeli flag after 7 October. RaphaĂ«l Glucksmann, son of Nouveau Philosophe AndrĂ©, whose Place Publique mini-party had pulled his Socialist associates out of near-extinction to poll 14.8%, five points above the hard-Left MĂ©lenchonista faction and a mere half-point from the Macron list on the promise that he was offering a social democrat alternative to the extremes, swallowed his principles and agreed to join the NPF.

On Friday morning, after a sleepless night, the self-same Nouveau Front Populaire pulled out of their collective hat the most Left-wing platform since the old days of the French Communist Party, far more radical than François Mitterrand’s in 1981. It includes nationalising utilities, cancelling pensions reform (bringing back retirement at 60), the return of the wealth tax, increasing inheritance tax (which already reaches 45% above £1.5m for direct descendants, and above £22,000 for everyone else), a cap on maximum inheritance (this is part of a chapter headlined “Abolishing the privileges of billionaires”), a “distance tax” on imports, an exit tax (to anyone leaving the country), and many, many, many more taxes. The Green Deal is “bettered”, with the option of a “popular referendum” on nuclear power (somewhat bewildering since they also promise to lower all heating bills immediately). Macron’s Immigration law would be cancelled, new immigrants would receive a “better welcome”, on and on: when the 12-page programme started circulating, several journalists checked that it was real and not a piece of clever National Rally propaganda.

This is probably the one piece of good news for the conservative RĂ©publicains, who, unlike the Left, have shown a dramatic lack of discipline. They are split between the party president, who wants an alliance with the National Rally, and the rest of the grandees, who don’t — and have no chance of gaining any seat without allying themselves with Emmanuel Macron, the most unpopular politician in France right now. (Their voters are fairly evenly split.) Macron himself has told his shell-shocked Cabinet the current mess will bring voters back to him.

The entire post-politics premise of Macronisme has been trashed: the “en mĂȘme temps” (“at the same time”) mantra that first got him elected seven years ago, a 39-year-old in a hurry, proclaiming that there was no longer a Left or a Right, only modern young technocrats reinventing shiny ways of dealing with our world.

“The entire post-politics premise of Macronisme has been trashed.”

Like Julius Caesar’s Gaul, France is divided in three parts: a generous Left often tempted by revolution, a Right split between timidity and  national-radicalism ,and a centre that historically has been all things to all voters, from rump Christian Democracy to social reformism. All were in many way impacted by Gaullism, the post-WWII cross-class political oddity that in many ways is the closest to original French populism.

Kicked out of power in 1946, Charles de Gaulle built his own party as he had the RĂ©sistance in exile: a common purpose was enough. Ever since it returned to power twelve years later, it retained some of its populist roots, increasingly diluted. The last of its iterations is Les RĂ©publicains, as it renamed itself under Nicolas Sarkozy. Les Reps haven’t been doing well since Sarko lost after a single term to the Socialist François Hollande in 2012. In the 2022 presidential election, their candidate, the Paris Region president, ValĂ©rie PĂ©cresse, won 4.75% of the vote, disastrous news because campaign expenses are only refunded above 5%. This nearly ruined the party, sparking endless acrimony.

The most recent RĂ©publicain primaries saw the victory of the Nice MP Eric Ciotti, a sharp-tongue Right-winger in keeping with the Provence-CĂŽte d’Azur mood (it’s the region most RN MPs come from, and where Eric Zemmour got the most presidential votes.) Les Reps’ Euro elections candidate polled 7.25% last Sunday. Ciotti, on his own, made his calls, met with Bardella and Marine; and announced on Tuesday that Les Reps would build alliances with the National Rally, breaching a taboo that had kept the traditional Right rigidly apart from anything run by someone called Le Pen.

All hell broke loose. Most party grandees, past and present, thundered that Ciotti should have consulted them, and a hastily convened political bureau was called to expel him from the party, as contradictory to its fundamental values. “Half the membership approves. This gives me all the legitimacy I need,” declared Ciotti, channelling his inner Bonaparte. The incensed grandees had to meet in a nearby cafĂ©, because Ciotti, bunkering down at headquarters, had locked the doors. He countered that the politburo meeting hadn’t been called according to statutes, and was, therefore, invalid; he started drafting candidates for 80 constituencies, 20 of which, he told hopeful candidates, were winnable because in their negotiation the Rally had agreed not to run candidates against the Reps ones. “He’s got the membership register, the Twitter account, the logo and the chequebook,” one of the potential candidates told me. “The others are nowhere.”

A Paris court was last night deliberating on the legality of this. And, meanwhile, having vowed they never would, the RĂ©publicains grandees have now drawn up lists of constituencies with Macronista incumbents they will not dispute, in a non-aggression pact that benefits the President far more than it helps them.

Le Pen and Bardella are over the moon. The Ciotti bonanza, which helps them in two or three dozen constituencies, also enabled them to kill off Eric Zemmour and his competing mini-party, ReconquĂȘte!, whose 5% voters could spoil several contests. There were strongly-felt and immensely personal reasons at play here. Le Pen saw her political inheritance, the Rally, which she had painstakingly reshaped to serve her presidential bid, attacked by an arrogant upstart who’d managed to win over her own niece, Marion MarĂ©chal.

From the moment he founded ReconquĂȘte!, Zemmour, a talented journalist, whose books on France’s unique destiny and the dangers of unchecked immigration have sold several million copies, decided he could transmute his viewers and readership into a political destiny. As he threw his hat into the arena in the last presidential contest, it seemed to be working. From the summer of 2021, long Trump-like queues awaited him at every stop of a “book tour” as he signed his doorstoppers and talked politics, with his trademark lopsided smile, sense of irony and demotic friendliness. A young and effective social media team blitzed all channels, a former organiser from Sarkozy’s victorious 2007 campaign was hired, and Zemmour’s poll numbers rocketed — at one stage he was predicted to win 21% of the vote in the first round.

All this was punctured by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 202w. Zemmour who only speaks (elegant) French suddenly looked like a one-issue man in a dangerous and complex world. He made the mistake, asked about welcoming Ukrainian refugees, to answer that they should remain in Ukraine’s neighbouring countries rather than come to France. This sounded mean-spirited and ungenerous. (He has admitted in a recent book that he’d got it wrong, but had tried to remain consistent with his immigration line.) His numbers dropped like a stone, and he finally polled at 7% in the first round, immediately encouraging his voters to cast their ballot for Marine Le Pen in the second round “without haggling”.

Long before he became a politician, Zemmour consistently advocated what Eric Ciotti is now attempting to create, l’Union des Droites, an alliance between all parties on the right. He expected his generous declaration to be welcomed by Marine Le Pen. It wasn’t. She had taken note of every slight, every jest, every disparaging mention when he was polling far ahead of her. “We are going to great-replace Marine!”, he joked, using the expression coined by the writer Renaud Camus, who believes there is a dastardly plot to replace indigenous European populations with new immigrants.

Zemmour was delighted to have snagged MarĂ©chal, who after early political successes left the Front rather than be ordered about by her aunt. Articulate, combative, more intellectual, MarĂ©chal, a fluent English and Italian speaker led the ReconquĂȘte list last Sunday, and polled a little above 5%, earning her party five EuroMPs.

By that time, Zemmour was no longer interested in any agreement with the Rally — but Marion, a realist, was. When Zemmour promised to run ReconquĂȘte spoiler candidates against RN ones, she opened her own negotiations with Bardella and her delighted aunt.

On Tuesday, Marion announced an alliance in front of the slack-jawed Zemmour during a TV interview — and that she was taking three of her newly-elected Euro MPs as war booty over to the Rally. Zemmour promptly expelled her and her acolytes from ReconquĂȘte!, and has since called her a “world champion on treason”. Unelected to any office — he wasn’t standing in the Euro-elections, his partner and adviser Sarah Knafo, a 31-year-old ENA graduate, was; she will be the only ReconquĂȘte! MEP in Brussels  — Zemmour cuts a lonely figure at Party HQ on rue Jean Goujon less than a mile from the ElysĂ©e. He is the first obvious loser of France’s Macron-crafted political earthquake, but he certainly won’t be the last.

Watching over this toxic brew, with his puppets rushing about as in a silent movie sped up to 30 frames per second, impervious to all criticism, is Emmanuel Macron, the Destroyer Of Worlds, convinced that he can pull a personal miracle out of the chaos. He believes the acceleration he has invoked will force everyone to make fatal mistakes. He has no sense of debt to any of the old politicians he dragged into his net, or to the young ones, such as his last PM, Gabriel Attal, built up as “the best of his generation”, now an encumbrance. It has only ever been about himself, anyway. And should he lose this gamble, with a Le Pen or MĂ©lenchon majority on the evening of 7 July, he has already hinted that he will resign, rather than living through a “cohabitation” like his predecessors, François Mitterrand or Jacques Chirac, forced to slog it though with a hostile National Assembly and PM. He has quietly consulted the Constitutional Council: he can’t stand again immediately, but in five years’ time, he’ll only be 51. Tomorrow belongs to him.


Anne-Elisabeth Moutet is a Paris-based journalist and political commentator.

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William Woods
William Woods
1 month ago

Hopefully Macron gets thrashed at the polls. Just another egotistical deluded little French man with ambitions far greater than the reality he inhabits.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 month ago
Reply to  William Woods

Indeed. Macron felt he had outgrown France some time ago and was ready to be a global “fixer”. When his apparent brilliance is under-appreciated by the great unwashed, his tendency towards petulance makes him somewhat erratic Ultimately he is a highly strung product of the grande ecole 16eme arrondissement variety. I hold to Neil Howe’s 4th turning … the leader who takes us through the 4th turning is forged by circumstance, not strategy. We are not yet there. They will emerge in 2027 in response to a very real crisis.

James P
James P
1 month ago
Reply to  William Woods

It sounds like you are talking about Trudeau, a man with the intellect of a teenager.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  James P

Surely the emotions of a teenager.

Terry M
Terry M
1 month ago
Reply to  William Woods

Who is worse: Macron or Trudeau?

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 month ago

This article is a real tour de force of modern French politics, imo. Having also read Katya Hoyer’s Unherd articles, I’m struck by how fragmented both German and French politics is these days. People understand their current political system isn’t working for them, but they don’t know what to do about it or which policies to back. So a splintered electorate is the result. As usual, the US mainstream media has barely mentioned the upcoming French and UK elections.
Fantastic article, but the author should probably correct the date of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Indeed, the Lotus Eaters is the only forum I can find documenting all this. Check it out if you want to see dramatic vids of the action outlined in this essay! https://youtu.be/hFhiRt4j2l8?si=RaWV8WEoh1avIt2V

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
1 month ago

The stark reality is that he and Rishi could do the same job interchangeably, and doubtlessly the sinister Trudeau too though I would not wish his transhuman neo-F-scist regime on either European country. Since Schwab has left the job, both could lead the WEF just as haplessly.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

I would disagree with WEF and haplessly.
It looks to me like policies of WEF are being implemented by governments of various political colours regardless what electorates want.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew F

What utter nonsense. Isn’t it embarrassing to hold to these childish conspiracy theories? The WEF is a toothless talking shop, orbit that influential for people like schmoozing there. Even a certain Vladimir Putin once appeared there. By what mechanism.does Klaus Schwab tell ruchi Sunak or Emanuel Macron what to do? Where is the WEF army on our streets?

The WEF has gone through various fashionable spasms and no doubt might change its position again in future.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 month ago

Something meaty from Unherd after what I feel has been a lean period.

John
John
1 month ago

Would it be fair to say that the populist right and the progressive left are replacing (at various speeds, including in the UK) the moderates on either side in the US and Europe? And what were witnessing is the fallout/realignment?

William Fulton
William Fulton
1 month ago
Reply to  John

That is fair to say. It is also fair to say that the Populist Right is at least loosely tethered to reality and market economics, whereas the Progressive Left is a destructive theology of Equity, Climate and Globalism.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 month ago

Very interesting. All sorts of fascinating info that the alleged experts in the msm didnt know, or didnt care about.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Mme Moutet is part of the MSM! Can’t people stop talking the most simplistic and indeed repetitive clichĂ©s on this forum?.

Apart from anything else, the what ought to be obvious distinction, known to any child, between reporting on something and actually having a position on that subject – seems to be unknown to many people here!

ERIC PERBET
ERIC PERBET
1 month ago

Thank you Ms. Moutet for brilliantly summing up the current political situation in France to English-speaking readers!
Like Marine Le Pen, I won’t miss Macron but the rise of the Fascist – albeit self-proclaimed anti-Fascist – Left is definitely not to my tastes…

Matt Woodsmith
Matt Woodsmith
1 month ago

Great article, but it did rather leave me thinking, “What on Earth is going on?”

Amelia Melkinthorpe
Amelia Melkinthorpe
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Woodsmith

French politics – same old same old.
While I was at University, back in the early 1990s, part of my Politics and History degree was a course in French governments – hilarious, every time. Makes Tammany Hall look like a Vicarage picnic.

Michael Spedding
Michael Spedding
1 month ago

We live and work in France, and are staying in North-East England for a holiday, despairing of both French and UK politics, run currently by financiers in populist-dominated worlds, unconnected with the financial wastelands of swathes of both countries. I had hoped Rory Stewart’s exposure of UK politics wasnt going to be entirely true also of French politics but see it is. Not a word in either elections of Ukraine, climate, environment, properly helping young people. Everybody in France was shocked by the sheer irresponsibility of Macron, when just before the Olympic games (which he called for, and approved swimming in the Seine on the basis of no evidence!), we may get a Minister for Sports and Minister for Security that don’t know where the toilets are…. Really excellent article.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

what is that you would like to see govt do about climate and environment, and why would you trust them to do it effectively? These are people who struggle to do basic things in mediocre fashion, often exempting themselves from the rules imposed on others.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

In the absence of an elected government taking on these issues, who do you suggest should take them on? Bureaucrats?

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

The specific people who believe and care, can take it on.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago

I find a lot of things wrong with France but leaving the country to holiday in North East of England is quite hilarious to all my friends who I posted your comment to.
Rory is even bigger tool than Kier BLM kneeler…

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

I am an American living and working in Paris, and observing the current elections with fear and anticipation and no understanding at all at what the correct path forward is. I’m curious to hear who you voted for (or would vote for if you have the rights). No judgement here, only an honest question.

james elliott
james elliott
1 month ago

“The Rassemblement had come first in 93% of France’s 36,000 villages, towns and cities, adding up to a third of the national vote from 38 separate lists”

A question for those familiar with French politics:

How does that *only* equal a third?

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  james elliott

Because 36k of small places contains minority of voters and first might mean 30% in multi horse race?

Simon White
Simon White
1 month ago
Reply to  james elliott

It’s apples and bananas.
If there are 100 candidates in a FTTP election, it’s possible to come first with only 2% of the vote, never mind a third.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  james elliott

James, I don’t want to be rude, but perhaps you could actually put your thinking cap on before asking such an obvious question!

james elliott
james elliott
1 month ago

“the writer Renaud Camus, who believes there is a dastardly plot to replace indigenous European populations with new immigrants”

I don’t know about a ‘plot’ per se – but a stroll around the banlieue of Paris and many parts of London, suggests that (intentionally or not) this has indeed happened.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  james elliott

Indeed. There may not be such a plot, but if there was wouldn’t things look very much as they do now? And of course demonising and sneering at anyone who says anything about there being such a plot is also consistent. Gaslighting I think it’s called as we are made to doubt and reject the evidence of our senses or risk being thought insane.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

The reality is that most of the urban upper middle classes have little contact with physical reality outside of their affluent effete life. The reality is that an aristocratic officer in the trenches in WW2 had more and closer connections with the working class than most of those who run the Western World. The officer may have been an heir to a title and fortune but was the first one out of the trench. 20% of the British aristocracy who fougth in WW1 were killed, the highest of any class.
Today’s affetes ( affluent and effete ) would have very unpleasant lives if they had to live in the crime ridden estates and had to attend the schools in such areas. Rather than young people travelling the World after school and before university, a year living and working in a crime ridden area would provide a greater insight into life. They say a Conservative is a Liberal who has been mugged.

Etienne Roulleaux Dugage
Etienne Roulleaux Dugage
1 month ago

Not very pleasant to be French nowadays. Proud and silly barbarians on right and left, cynical nihilists crumbling between them. « J’ai mal Ă  la France Â» so to speak as former president Giscard d’Estaing. I can’t expect any positive achievement from this election, neither for France nor for the EU nor for the Western issues. It looks like if our nation was falling apart like it did in the ‘30s before it actually collapsed in the worst defeat of its long and bumpy history. O tempora o mores ! Beware, you westerners : same causes, same effects. I guess you will have your turn. What is typically French, I agree, is the comic manner of this democratic crisis.

Max Jarrett
Max Jarrett
1 month ago

Excellent analysis. I lived in France for six of the past ten years. This commentary is brilliant.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago

Great outline of French political landscape.
Maybe Sunak gave micron idea of early election?
Seriously, it is incredible that French constitution allows such short time window for national election.
No country should be playground for vanities and mental state of a leader.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Salvini’s Lega lost 75% of their representatives in this European election. I do not know how this “favored them”

Nicholas Coulson
Nicholas Coulson
1 month ago

Bravo! Best article I’ve read on Unherd in a while and a brilliant tour d’horizon on the fallout from Macron‘s detonation of a nuclear device under French politics. It would be funny – a la speeded-up Keystone Cops – if it weren’t so serious. The French people deserve better.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
1 month ago

It’s hilarious and awful but, I can’t help myself, it’s also somehow magnificent!

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Mott

C’est magnifique mais ce n’est pas de la politique

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

A hatchet job on Macron and on France. I wouldn’t expect anything different from UnHerd. With John Lloyd, one-time Labour party Unionist in the UK, eagerly awaiting a couple of days ago the installation of “the Dauphin” of in Paris, as a prelude to breaking up the EU, UnHerd is showing its true anti-EU credentials.

The reality is much more prosaic. Le Pen, Meloni, Gilders et al are Right of centre, not far-Right. Only Orban in insignificant Hungary fits that description. Voters are tasking them to manage their countries better on core issues such as migration within the framework of the quasi-federal EU. The euro project has seen to it that not one of these leaders is advocating leaving the EU because they know it would collapse the euro and with it the savings and livelihoods of pampered Europeans everywhere.

The EU is now sufficiently embedded as to make it impossible to dismantle short of a conflagration. The same could be said of the federal USA. It is why the incoming Trump administration will not change much. A lot of bark and little bite, as in the first term. Nor will a Le Pen presidency in France. Macron should resign if he looses these elections and give Le Pen a free rein. He will be back in five years. The Le Pens and Trumps of this world cannot change the system, other than tweaking it, because voters will not let them. The pendulum now swinging Rightwards will swing back towards the Centre and then Leftwards. You campaign in poetry and govern in prose.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 month ago

“an exit tax (to anyone leaving the country)”
How long till crime-ridden blue cities in the US realize they should do this to companies closing their doors and moving away?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago

Excellent article. In Britain, the Labour Party was formed by working class Christians who wanted a better quality of life. In France as one moves rightwards in the Conservative parties one arrives at Petain, in the Socialist Parties to Communism and revolution. These two extremes produce instability and an inability of parties on the right to unite and on the left to unite to produce emotionally mature politics. Consequently people vote not only for a party but against others. The result is that Macron has become President.
Also that major reforms do not occur as there is never a critical mass of supporters. The thirty glorious years of 1945 to 1975, came to an end due to the oil crisis of 1973;The UK’s economic decline, increase in German ecomic power and industrialisation in others perts of the world increasing competition. At a simple level, there was little to challenge French wine in 1975, now many who produce low and medium quality . The collapse of mining and steel production which hit the UK has also had similar results in France.
What the French want is a return to pre 1973 when France had a good quality of life and dominated the EEC.

McExpat M
McExpat M
1 month ago

“Tomorrow belongs to him”. The pendulum will swing wildly for quite some time to come in the West. Which favour of authoritarianism do you prefer, Left or Right?

John Hughes
John Hughes
1 month ago

AEM writes, “Kicked out of power in 1946, Charles de Gaulle built his own party as he had the RĂ©sistance in exile: a common purpose was enough. Ever since it returned to power twelve years later, it retained some of its populist roots, increasingly diluted.”
De Gaulle was not kicked out of power in 1946. He resigned unexpectedly in January 1946 to the complete surprise of his Cabinet. He was Prime Minister (or as it was termed, Head of the Provisional Government) effectively from August 1944 until January 1946. He effectively took office when Paris was liberated (25 August) and Marseille followed on 28 August (thanks to the Operation Anvil landings) – in both cases by Free French troops with US assistance.
De Gaulle did not like the emerging draft for the Fourth Republic constitution which would re-create the Third Republic. However he did not have the power then, under the provisional arrangements of immediate post-war France to insist on the Executive President structure, which he was able to create on return to power in 1958. He went into ‘retirement’ at Colombey-les-deux-Ă©glises from where he supervised the setting-up of the new R P R (or Gaullist) party, which first appeared in 1947.
AEM’s grandfather Marius Moutet was a Gaullist politician after 1945 having been in the Free French exiled administration in London and then Algiers in 1940-44, so she should get the immediate post-war history right….

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

In describing Macron’s all-male inner council, why is Brigitte not included?

Jerry K
Jerry K
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Not elected!

Jerry K
Jerry K
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

She is not elected. Except for Macron, spouses are not normally drawn into the picture.

Ash Sangamneheri
Ash Sangamneheri
1 month ago

Seems a lot of moving parts, an infographic would have helped.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Has Anne-Elisabeth ever posted a positive article about France or does she get commissioned by the Telegraph/Spectator/UnHerd to just always have a negative take?
What do we think? That’s a genuine question btw.

Jerry K
Jerry K
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I watch French TV regularly and AEM’s article is very balanced and even relatively positive! She left out the incredibly vicious internecine scrambles, the physical violence in demos and the extraordinary hostility between the many public figures involved. The unification of so called ultra left candidates after calling each other names in public discourse or supporting Hamas, is hypocrisy at its finest in the pursuit of power. Even Francois Holland has recently joined the ultra left fray too! You could not make it up…

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I think she’s got far too much granular insight into what’s going on to be anything other than a realist.

Tony Kilmister
Tony Kilmister
1 month ago

Superb piece. Entertainingly polemical, as well as informative.

Olivier Lefevre
Olivier Lefevre
1 month ago

“Renaud Camus, who believes there is a dastardly plot to replace indigenous European populations with new immigrants.” That is extremely disingenuous. Renaud Camus does not claim that and has clarified this point many times. The grand remplacement is simply the reality on the ground, the result of decades of mass immigration. See for instance this qotation from his book “Enemy of the disaster”, taken from this Spectator review: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/enemy-of-the-disaster-selected-political-writings-of-renaud-camus-reviewed/

Alas, no, what I believe is that there are obscure movements in the depths of the species, subject to the very laws of tragedy, starting with the first of them, which has it that the wishes of men and civilisations whose disappearance is foreordained shall be granted.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
1 month ago

“Macron has always had a woman problem: his close circle is entirely male, save for his wife Brigitte.”
And even that exception is not entirely certain. 😉