Emmanuel Macron, during a prime-time press conference, promised this Tuesday “order” and “authority” to make a “stronger and fairer France”. Among other measures, he proposes a “civic” or even “demographic” rearmament which will include a plan to promote fertility. The President of the Republic is seeking new momentum in his mandate, a week after appointing the youngest Prime Minister in the history of the Fifth Republic, and six months before the European elections of which the French far right is the favorite.
The start of the new government was overshadowed by the declarations of the Minister of Education, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. The minister justified sending her children to an elite private Catholic school by denigrating a Parisian public school where her son had been a student. Then he apologized.
Macron rightly considers schools a priority to breathe oxygen into a France in difficulty. The idea is that order and authority do not belong to the right, and even less to the far right, and that it is only by reappropriating them that we can defeat them. The criticism from the left is that these comments confirm its turn to the right.
“Order goes hand in hand with progress, and authority goes hand in hand with emancipation,” he declared before responding to the press for more than two hours. The setting was that of General De Gaulle’s famous press conferences. Opposite, hundreds of journalists under the majestic lamps of the Elysée party hall. The president proposes, during the last three and a half years of his second and last five-year term, to combat the “spirit of resignation”, this pessimism so typically French.
“I am convinced that we have the capabilities to succeed, that our story of progress is not over and that our children will live better than us,” Macron said. He then presented a battery of measures linked to education, from experimenting with uniforms in around a hundred centers to the obligation to learn. The Marseillaise, the national anthem, in primary school. Also, better control of the screens. The proposals also include new economic reforms.
In the front row sat the new Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, the youngest in the history of the Fifth Republic. And the new ministers, including some former collaborators of the former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy, such as the head of Culture, Rachida Dati. Sarkozy’s mark is not only visible on the staff; Words like “authority” or “rearmament” recall his predecessor. “In a week,” writes the columnist of The world Françoise Fressoz, “Macronism has turned into a sarko-macronism“.
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Macron looks at today’s France and draws conclusions. It is a country which, in matters of security, identity or immigration, leans to the right. A country also with a populist and radical right that is stronger than ever. “The requirement for authority is strong and incontestable,” commented Brice Teinturier, CEO of Ipsos France, before the press conference. “The question of security is also stronger than that of immigration.”
Macron knows recent history. Over the past twenty years, a Le Pen – first father Jean-Marie, then daughter Marine – has qualified for the second round of the presidential election, except twice: when Sarkozy was a candidate. He achieved this from the right and by appropriating the favorite themes of the far right such as identity.
“Macron’s bet is to say that, if we do not take into account the issues that the RN defends, in particular immigration, we leave it an extremely wide field,” commented Teinturier. “The difficulty of this bet is that, until now, on the question of immigration, the RN is perceived as the most credible party. It’s a dilemma: not talking about this subject means ceding its monopoly to the RN, but talking about it makes it rise.”
Macron denies having been right. He still claims the spirit of 2017, when he conquered power, by saying he is “neither left nor right”. A nod to the left: at a press conference, he declared that France would not be “strong and just” if, at the same time, “the first injustice: social and family determinism” was not repaired . That is to say the reality according to which someone, because of their name of foreign origin or their neighborhood of origin – peripheral, poor, with a population of immigrant origin – has fewer opportunities than others.
Macron placed the diagnosis of today’s France in a global context, that of a “disappearing world of yesterday”. For France to be stronger, he declared, “an essential element is a stronger, more united and more sovereign Europe”. To which he added: “The European elections will be a key event and moment. »
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