Suddenly everything is accelerating for Emmanuel Macron, sometimes described as a follower of procrastination. The time to make decisions came after the verdict of the Constitutional Council on the pension reform, which offers him the opportunity to regain control. The President of the Republic does not want to leave time out. At the risk of appearing inflexible, he promulgated the law, immediately after its validation by the sages, Friday April 14, then announced a televised speech to address the French, Monday April 17.
First President of the Fifth Republic elected twice in a row without having experienced a period of cohabitation, Emmanuel Macron is challenged to give new impetus to his second five-year term. Because, almost a year after his re-election, on April 24, 2022, the risk seems great of being overtaken by the curse of the second terms of presidents: the resignation of Charles de Gaulle, after the lost referendum on the creation of regions and the reform of the Senate in 1969, the image of immobility of François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, who remained respectively fourteen and twelve years in power.
“Don’t give up, that’s my motto,” warned the head of state on the Notre-Dame site on Friday, suggesting a state of mind not inclined to doubt. But how to accomplish the next four years of his mandate, after three months of strong social tensions, in “an atmosphere reminiscent of the end of his reign”, in the words of the general director of opinion of Ifop Frédéric Dabi? How to find the ways of appeasement, when the unions and the left want to continue “the fight” against the decline of the legal age to 64 years?
As of Friday, the President of the Republic had invited the unions to meet him. An invitation declined immediately. “For Emmanuel Macron, the rebound consists in relaunching a form of dialogue and consultation to open a new chapter. But none of the interlocutors, in the broad sense, in society, seems ready to listen because legitimacy has been reached, ”says historian Jean Garrigues. Because, insists the academic, “the pension crisis is the symptom of the disconnection between Emmanuel Macron – but also all the political actors – and the citizens: there is a malaise of the French compared to all that represents the institution”. Starting with the one who “embodies the regime”. The President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, thus questioned “Emmanuel Macron’s way of governing”.
The Head of State disputes the idea of a “democratic crisis”, as he evacuates the recurring question about his legitimacy, his opponents arguing that some of the voters voted for him in the second round in order to beat Marine Le pen. According to him, he is legitimate who has been elected. As for the difficulties, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, blames the past executives. “The President of the Republic pays all the bills at the same time, on almost all subjects, for lack of investment and courage”, he affirmed, Saturday April 15, before the leaders of Renaissance.
Elected in a similar way, facing the president of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2002, Jacques Chirac was in a different situation after a long cohabitation of five years. “The President of the Republic has punctuated the coexistence of positions that have formed the framework of his second term. It was in the very peaceful but real confrontation with the left that he developed what could be the policy of the right, ”recalls Senator Philippe Bas, former Secretary General of the Élysée. Before quoting: “European commitment, decentralization, economic liberalisation, social dialogue and pension reform on the basis of an agreement with the CFDT and the CGC. »
To give meaning to his action, Emmanuel Macron has a range of political and institutional tools, but few possibilities of using them in the short term. Dissolving the National Assembly would run the risk of further weakening its majority, and resorting to a referendum would run the risk of receiving a sanction. Changing prime minister would make little sense when the validation of the pension reform confirms Elisabeth Borne in her post. Moreover, this one displayed, in front of the executives of Renaissance Saturday, the determination of the executive to “accelerate the reforms”. But on what priorities? The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, confirmed the answer: “We want full employment. Work for all must remain our objective. Still, to reform, you have to find allies, in the absence of an absolute majority at the Palais-Bourbon and in the absence of a contract or coalition with Les Républicains, at least for the moment. “Going beyond is at the heart of our political identity. We must hear and listen,” recalled Bruno Le Maire. However, “the short-term impasse is parliamentary: it is in the search for majorities, text by text”, says historian Jean Garrigues.
It is difficult under these conditions to envisage major structural reforms. Especially since another obstacle stands up: “From the moment he cannot run again, Emmanuel Macron has lost his status as majority leader and the means to put pressure on it. The war of succession has begun and the army is no longer in battle order,” notes Jean Garrigues.
Despite this climate, Emmanuel Macron believes it is possible to “reinvigorate the course” on “the reforms to be carried out” concerning “inflation, ecology, health and school, subjects which challenge, interest and worry the French “Explains the Elysée. And this despite an unpopularity that could become chronic. With a confidence rating of 25% according to the Elabe Institute, the gap is widening with public opinion, including with his voters in the first round in 2022. “The role of a president is not to seek to be loved “, had confided the head of state on the sidelines of a visit to China. On Wednesday April 19, he will open a cycle of trips to France, in “a logic of appeasement” but “within range of shouting matches”, underlines his entourage.
Because it is the restoration of the link with the country that is at stake. “I am in the pulse of the nation,” says Emmanuel Macron, quoted by journalist Ludovic Vigogne in his book Les sans jours (Books). The former presidents also had their formula. “I love France in a carnal way”, used to say François Mitterrand, when General de Gaulle had decided, in War Memoirs: “All my life, I have had a certain idea of France . »
Many lend Emmanuel Macron to think about the trace he wants to leave in history. This was also the case with General de Gaulle and François Mitterrand. As for Jacques Chirac, “he did not seek to have an image of a smashing reformer”, nor “to carve an image for history”, assures his former adviser Philippe Bas: “When he fails on the dissolution and the referendum on the European Constitution, he says that the French are always right and takes it as a lesson. “Emmanuel Macron will have to, according to the Elysée, “put an end to the tensions and quarrels”.