The Doctrines of Macron


Photo source: US news

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

Macron is now the first French leader in modern times to be re-elected in April 2022 since Jacques Chirac. Ever since he stood for the presidency, he promised radical reforms and a departure from the status quo. There are now many, besides the angry Parisian rich, and provincial mobs who feel Macron has not done badly at all, despite the energy crises. They appreciate unemployment is now no longer an issue, and agree that pushing back the age of retirement was a good decision. Many French commoners also feel content that he talks to Putin straight, even if it has been a fruitless endeavour by and large.

His system of governance has been unique, and witty. He radiated single-minded evangelism for France, straddled the centre, and destroyed the old pairing of conservatives and social democrats. By using the powers implicit in De Gaulle's Fifth Republic, he installed a highly personalised and highly concentrated system of government from the Elysee. It led the opposition to the extremes of left and right, where Macron perceived they could never really pose a threat. But, this is also letting the French, who oppose him, more comfortable with these extremes, as they have nowhere to go, after Macron’s revolution. In the second term, his close associates think that he will be more of a listener.

Marcon first started as an economy minister, and then launched his own movement, En Marche. Without the backing of any established party or structure, he was initially written off by many people as too young and too inexperienced, like a ‘champagne bubble’ liable to pop before polling day. One fellow minister in France's socialist government even mocked Macron's new movement by nicknaming its members as the Marchers, by posting a video of its launch on social media, set to a song titled ‘I Walk Alone’. That's not how it turned out. Macron had a fair amount of luck in his first election campaign. At his campaign rallies, the future leader seemed to give himself completely to the moment. He had been hoarse with his emotions, almost Messianic, as he shouted into the auditorium, head thrown back, with his arms wide, telling his fans that he loved them, needed them. He even gave blockbuster interviews to international magazines like Der Speigel in which he argued for ‘heroic politics’ and foreign policy that was to reinvent and reinvigorate the European Union but also to be independent of the European and NATO line when necessary. It was rock star politics. Political biographer Marc Endeweld even believes that Emmanuel Macron has ‘compartmentalised his relationships’.

But, in reality, his foreign policy and issues related to Muslim integration in France have taken a beating on the world stage which includes keeping tabs on local mosques. He, in fact, contradicted his notions regarding taking care of immigrants fleeing persecution and war when he first became president.  

According to James Snell’s Oped in The New Arab, the French position that has taken shape during Macron’s years in power also seems to be that dictatorships or military rule on the Mediterranean coast are acceptable if they can slow or stop the movement of migrants into Europe. For reducing migrants towards European shores, Macron even mounted international conferences including the Western Mediterranean Forum, also known as the 5 + 5 Dialogue, designed to develop and stabilise Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. It can also be said that France has been involved in pan-European and Mediterranean politics, but has largely not had success as either a participant or as a broker. Currently, it is most unpopular in the Sahel region, where it wages counter-insurgency against Islamic extremism.

In domestic terms, Macron has to see how pluralism is sustained, especially when right-wing politics has been agitated vigorously by his opponents. Le Penn has been just one among many. In February 2022, during a campaign speech in front of thousands of people, French presidential candidate Valerie Pecresse said two highly controversial words invoking a racist conspiracy theory: the 'great replacement'.

Originally used by the French far-right as a means to spread fear over immigration, the term ‘great replacement’ refers to a highly racist and nationalistic theory that native, white Europeans are being outnumbered and replaced by non-white, non-European immigrants.

Pecresse, a right-wing politician of the Les Republicains party, has previously used the term, as has far-right candidate Eric Zemmour, to appeal to right-wing voters.

The term has been increasingly used over the past decade and has permeated political discourse until the April 2022 presidential election.

First coined in 2010 by French far-right writer Renaud Camus, who later published an entire book entitled ‘Le Grand Remplacement in 2011, the last ten years have seen the term become a staple of white supremacist discourse, spreading beyond French borders, and embraced by the American and European alt-right. The theory became widely publicised after the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacres in New Zealand, where fifty-one Muslims attending prayer were killed by a white supremacist. The gunman had published a 74-page manifesto ranting against Muslims and immigrants, citing the 'great replacement' as a motivation for the attacks. However, alarmingly, this French theory has also been invoked by local candidates considered more ‘moderate’ on the political spectrum, such as PĂ©cresse, who has struggled to win votes, and has been under pressure to tilt further to the right. 

Etienne Ollion, a sociologist and research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, told The New Arab in an interview that the far-right has even benefited from the current government’s actions against immigrants, such as local authorities tearing down migrant tents in Calais, and attacking of French Muslims, with the anti separatism bill. The scenario also shows how hard it will be for Macron to reconcile and operate in such a roiling environment.


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