This poll was called to my attention by a reader, Frédéric Lefebvre-Naré. It purports to show that while 75% of the French believe that pension reform is necessary, 64% do not trust the present government to produce an equitable reform.
These results epitomize Macron’s problem. He has said that “les Gaulois son réfractaires aux réformes,” but the truth seems to be rather that they are hostile to him, distrustful of his intentions, and afraid of being duped if they assent to sweeping changes of their social model.
But perhaps this assessment is unfair to Macron. It is common in recent years to see polls suggesting that “the people” of this or that country favor massive though vaguely specified reforms yet to find actual, concrete reform proposals rejected on the grounds that the speifics are unpleasant or that an existing government, despite being duly elected, cannot be trusted to achieve the desired end. This is one of the recurring paradoxes of democracy at a time when hard choices seem to be necessary.
Still, that is no reason to let Macron off the hook too easily. He has earned the distrust of the electorate. Now he has to win it back. How he handles the events of Dec. 5 and after will likely prove whether he is or is not equipped to do so.
Photo Credit: Presidencia de la República Mexicana, Emmanuel Macron in July 2017, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.