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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Élysée. Emmanuel Macron, du déni au mépris

by Lionel Venturini

The Élysée Palace: Emmanuel Macron, from denial to contempt

The President of the Republic of France is exercising power in a single-handed and despotic manner.

Translated Saturday 19 May 2018, by Anne Sanders

The President champions a mythicised vision of the country, but remains silent on current industrial action; during a televised interview, he denies that protesters have any sort of legitimacy.

Announcements from the government contain strangely mixed messages. Leaders in the La République En Marche! Party, reviewing Emmanuel Macron’s first year at the Élysée Palace, now admit that the lowering of the APL (Aide Personnalisée au Logement - housing benefit) was a “bad decision”; Julien Denormandie, from the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, went so far as to call it “an unavoidable screw-up”. Meanwhile, according to Richard Ferrand, leader in the National Assembly, the President actually maintains the contrary view. In a new documentary about him, broadcast on Monday evening, Emmanuel Macron, speaking to camera, makes his contempt clear for “those who think that the highlight of the protest is the 50 euros of APL housing benefit” when compared with the “values” for which the gendarme Colonel Beltrame died during the attacks in Trèbes in March this year. On the one hand, there is “Colonel Beltrame who died because France consists of ideas and values, almost like a war which transcends this”. On the other hand, there are “the people who think that France is a kind of group of freeholders where you have to stand up for a social model which is no longer up to the mark (sic), a Republic which can no longer be recognised as such”.

The launch of the president, which is not a matter of side-stepping and where it would be most unlikely to hear any expression of regret, is related to the establishment of Emmanuel Macron as a President who is confident. The online journal Médiapart questioned Alexis Kohler, the Élysée Palace Secretary General, about the conflict of interest between his family fortune and his former roles (see elsewhere) : his laconic response speaks volumes for the feeling of impunity that prevails. Why the devil should I justify myself? Where unmeasured language meets the unconscious, Emmanuel Macron, about to embark on his second year at the Élysée, is the embodiment of the ungrounded President who has no words for the current industrial action. The President who wants to be one of the people, by going to meet the nurses and railway workers, is the same one who complains that “they cry disaster as soon as this or that needs to be reformed (…) These people do not know the history of our country”.

“The Royal Touch”

In fact, the people know that social victories are won step by step, never “acquired by entitlement”, and that they will have their share of deaths. The “street deaths” are the corollary of poor housing, but, in the personal pantheon of the President, they do not appear worthy of the same esteem as the sacrifice made by the gendarme Colonel Beltrame. This is the full scope of the President’s remarks, to compare that which is not comparable. More than his open scorn for social struggle, the President’s remarks are a vision in the sense of lunacy. His supporters are overcome by the affliction, such as his spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit, who, according to Le Monde, believes that with Macron, “the sense of touch is fundamental, it’s a second language. It’s a performance: “The Royal Touch”. This is a form of transcendency”. This mythicised vision of France - an ominous sign - is largely shared in the Macron ranks. For example, Maria Schiappa, Minister of State for Gender Equality, believes that “France needs to be reincarnated, and this is what the President is proposing. And France needs to be headed by a couple. The explanation is practically Freudian. We are a romantic people”. Which makes one wonder who really needs Freud here.

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