‘Why I believe Macron wont save France’

by Jonathan Miller

A British journalist who lives in southwest France, where he has a seat on a town council. Miller is the author of “France, a Nation on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”.

France’s new president-elect won the election decisively. But the French voted for him with little enthusiasm, and his power to address their concerns is limited. Expect trouble…

Sunday night’s extravagant celebration of Emmanuel Macron’s ascension to the presidency of France will excite Paris, but not everyone will be celebrating. The 2017 presidential campaign has left very few voters outside the Parisian bubble satisfied.

Macron represents everything most French voters do not like: globalisation, banking, Bilderberg, the EU. He has been elected not because of what he believes, but because he is not Marine Le Pen.

The media in France suffers from groupthink and predictability and has shamelessly backed Macron, which some will consider reasonable, considering the alternative. Le Pen is a socialist nationalist with an incoherent economic policy and a toxic brand that she will never be able to shake off.

“Macron represents everything most French voters do not like. He won because he is not Marine Le Pen.”

The performance of the media is nevertheless discreditable. Le Pen was never really given a chance to seriously discuss her policies. On television podiums she was subjected to constant attacks, drowning out all her attempts to be heard. What the journalists failed to credit was that millions of French people are attracted to her ideas and it might be wise to understand why.

The conflicts that confront Macron are intense and include the elections to the National Assembly in June, for which he has so far selected just 14 candidates. Macron’s movement is hardly a political party. At the moment it has but one self-appointed leader, no structure of party democracy, and little local presence.

If the last-minute Macron leaks dump tells us anything, it is that the Macron campaign was ruthlessly disciplined and had, it appears, thought of everything. It also revealed the extensive censorship employed by the French government to prohibit details of the documents from becoming widely available.

The timing on the eve of the pre-election quiet period was bizarre as it was hardly going to help Le Pen, especially as she was immediately blamed for it.

The more conspiratorial believe the timing not accidental as it probably helped Macron. In any case, there seems to be no smoking gun.

The issue-by-issue position papers were slick, well-considered and comprehensive. Perhaps there will be some embarrassing documents to be revealed as a detailed trawl of the cache gets underway, but the blindingly obvious is that Macron was supported by a large and expensive back office.

By the end of the week, the list of those who had declared themselves for the two candidates was ludicrously lopsided. The Macron peloton comprised Obama, Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker, president François Hollande, former president Nicolas Sarkozy, pop-philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy, eco-activist José Bové, 1968 rebel turned euro MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the French communist party, all the big unions, all the newspapers, the entire chattering class and Medef, the French industry federation.

Marine Le Pen, not so much, beyond Brigitte Bardot. I suspect this coalition will have fallen apart by tomorrow morning.

On my way to help with the voting this afternoon (I am a municipal councillor), I ran into half a dozen of my chums and we stopped to chat. Five had voted blanc — in effect, a blank ballot. These were not baba-cool lefties but serious guys with sensible and responsible jobs.

Macron is president, but he starts out under a deep cloud of suspicion and doubt.

While there may be a honeymoon, and plenty of champagne quaffed at the Louvre, expect it to be very brief.

This article was originally published on The Spectator’s website. It has been edited for length.

You Decide

  1. Should the UK elect its leader directly, as France and the USA do?

Activities

  1. What does Macron’s victory mean for the UK? Using online research, compile a dossier to present to Theresa May on the president-elect’s policies.

Word Watch

Sunday night
This article was first published on Sunday evening, just after the election result was announced.
Bilderberg
The Bilderberg conference is held annually in the Netherlands; it is attended by around 150 people from Europe’s and North America’s political and economic elite.
Groupthink
The practice of forming opinions that fit with others’, rather than thinking for oneself.
National Assembly
France’s legislature. If Macron’s party fails to get a majority, his power to enact laws will be limited.
Macron leaks
Two days before the election, thousands of documents hacked from the Macron campaign were published online. A number of experts have linked the leak to Russian groups.
Extensive censorship
By law, candidates in France’s presidential elections have to stop campaigning 48 hours before the polling stations close. The country’s electoral commission warned citizens that distributing the leaked documents could be a criminal offence.
The Louvre
The world’s largest museum and a Parisian landmark. Macron’s campaign held its victory celebration there.