Moment of Maximum Danger for Macron

Arthur Goldhammer
19 March 2019

The gauntlet has been thrown down. An angry Édouard Philippe appeared on TV tonight to attempt to explain why the violence in Paris had gotten so out of hand on Saturday. His explanation: we (the government) had a strategy, but it was not properly executed. In other words, blame the prefect of Paris, Michel Delpuech, who was summarily fired. Next weekend will be different, Philippe promised. But it may not be in his power to keep that promise. At the very least, the black blocs will now have every incentive to try to circumvent whatever new police tactics are attempted. And the government has now raised the stakes to the point where it will lose face if the violence succeeds, and therefore the police will be under intense pressure to stop it. Under such circumstances, mishaps–potentially fatal mishaps–become more likely. And if there are fatalities, things could get worse.

The television coverage has made everything worse by exaggerating the size of the demonstrations and extent of the damage. There was a good deal of breakage and pillage along the length of the Champs-Elysées, but the number of demonstrators was much reduced compared with previous weeks and incidents were confined to a small area. But the intense media coverage magnified what happened, and the casseurs chose symbolic targets (such as Fouquet’s, the site of Sarkozy’s saturnalia, and a bank, and a Cartier shop).

On the positive side, the backlash against the Gilets Jaunes is growing sharper. Business people along the Champs-Elysées spoke of devastating cumulative losses, and polls indicate a sharp decrease of support for the movement, which is now portrayed as at best a witting accomplice of the anarchists. But Macron must now deliver on the explicit promise to restore order. The Grand Débat is over, the European elections are impending, and there is no further place to hide.

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2 Comments

  • FrédéricLN says:

    “The television coverage has made everything worse by exaggerating the size of the demonstrations and extent of the damage.” Yes. That are modern times. Very magnifying mirrors..

    “But the number of demonstrators was much reduced compared with previous weeks” : well, not compared to the previous week at last (when I was on the Champs, on Saturday 9th, I found there were ~3000 people, the figure I also read ; the figures I read were 5000 to 10000 for this Saturday 16th). This Saturday, Eric Drouet suggested all GJ from the Northern half of France should go to Paris and target Élysée.

  • Massilian says:

    The moment of maximum danger for Macron, really?
    Where will the lethal threat come from that could cut off his head – or cost him his second term? Who is the challenger ? Where is he ?
    Of course it’s a mess in the ranks of his party and even in his government, but it’s so much worse among his opponents! And then I think the good people are getting tired. It smells like the third half of the game. It’s springtime. We will be able tovent or chill out one last time this year with the European elections before going for a picnic in the shade because it is already getting pretty warm. I think that in France, in the end everyone is quite happy not to be English or Italian or even German or Spanish. In short, it doesn’t look so much better elsewhere. We complained loudly, then our arrogant little prince dropped us some crumbs, so it ain’t that bad finally and well you know, one has to learn when it is time to end an insurrection and settle for what we have…

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