Virage à 1 km–mais à droite ou à gauche?

26 May 2020

The pandemic has presented Emmanuel Macron with an opportunity. He can now reimagine his presidency without appearing to have been forced into retreat by the Gilets Jaunes and opponents of his retirement reform. The first moves have already been announced: more resources for hospitals, including long-demanded and long-resisted salary hikes and new hires, plus an 8 billion euro bailout for the auto industry. With Merkel now having come around on debt mutualization, one could almost imagine a reboot of the Macron presidency back to its hopeful early days, but this time with un virage à gauche rather than à droite.

But the right still holds the top posts in the Macron administration, and two of its ambitious ministers are attempting to make sure that any social component of the rénovation redounds to the credit of the right. As Françoise Fressoz points out in this editorial, Bruno Le Maire wants to make sure that any stimulus money comes with a “green” stamp bearing his name, since green is the new blue. In fact, green is the new red as well, as the unions and ecology activists have begun to find common cause. Meanwhile, Gérard Darmanin is emphasizing the need for a new social Gaullism to peel the working class away from the far right. Despite persistent rumors of a remaniement that would leave him out in the cold, Edouard Philippe remains in charge of all this maneuvering and yesterday presided over the opening of the so-called “Ségur de la Santé,” the gathering of all the healthcare professionals of France and Navarre, together with their bulging cahiers de doléances.

The danger for Macron, of course, is that even if this latest virage takes the country in the right direction, it could redound to the benefit of potential rivals, including not only the three named above but any number of others, such as Xavier Bertrand, Valérie Pécresse, or François Baroin. This at least would have the merit of injecting some variety into the French political drama, which had settled into a dreary rerun of the Macron-Le Pen faceoff but this time with the bloom off Macron’s (fausse) rose. LREM is about to take a shellacking in the renewed municipal elections, now scheduled for June 28. Agnès Buzyn has apparently overcome her understandable reluctance to get back into the Parisian mayoral fray, and she will instead womanfully go down to ignominious defeat. With a summer of discontent ahead and vacations on hold pending further loosening of the Covid regulations, political life is just beginning to stir once again. We shall see what comes of it.


Photo Credit: GilPe, Luxembourg road sign A,1a (left), via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.



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