Home News A small group of advisers helped Macron take a big risk

A small group of advisers helped Macron take a big risk


His prime minister was one of the last to know about it President Emmanuel Macron’s shocking decision to dissolve parliament and call French legislative elections was so secretive it was kept secret only by a small circle of advisers.

Gabriel Arter, 35, is his personal favorite and his prodigy, Macron appointed Attal as prime minister in January, months after Macron entrusted him with the task of revitalizing the government only to turn him away when he was considering one of the most important decisions of his presidency: whether to call elections amid the rise of the anti-immigrant National Rally party.

Macron’s style has always been top-down, but this time he tried Far-right governmentThe minority that made the decision was so narrow-minded that even many of his ministers and supporters were shocked that he was willing to take such a risk.

A photo Macron’s official photographer posted a photo on Instagram that captured Macron’s frustration as he announced his decision to the government on June 9. Attal had his arms folded and a blank look on his face. Gérald Darmanin, the longtime interior minister who has since announced he might leave the government, clasped his hands in front of his face in disbelief.

Macron, who calls himself an “incurable optimist,” insisted he had to call the election so he could remain president but also potentially force him to share power with his arch-enemy for the final three years of his term. His favorite word is “clarification,” which he says only a national vote can do. Defeated by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally He told reporters that it would be a contempt for democracy to act as if nothing had happened during the European Parliament elections.

Still, he was not forced to call early elections to allow nationalist right-wing parties to take power weeks before the Paris Olympics.

“He’s playing Russian roulette with France,” said Célia Belin, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Paris. “It’s almost inexcusable.”

Of course, some things have changed. Seven years ago, Macron became an overnight sensation, disrupting the old order of French politics and taking the country by storm by becoming president at age 39. Today, his bold (some say megalomaniacal) certainty seems increasingly isolated, with fewer followers around him.

“‘I accept you, I abandon you’: that’s Macron, and that’s what he did to Attar,” said Marisol Touraine, a former health and social affairs minister and Attar’s political mentor. “He devours people.”

With chatter about Paris peppered with words like “crazy gamble,” “out of touch with reality,” and “blinding ego,” it’s hard to understand why their president chose to take such a risk.

The reality in France today is that the National Rally has Soften its image But its core belief remains that immigration represents a dilution of Frenchness, and the party has proved most adept at tapping into widespread fear, resentment and anger toward a president who towers over the world.

Macron, who has been elected president twice and has never been defeated on the national stage, still believes he will win, and of course, his chances of winning are still very high. He believes that facing the far right, which threatens some of the core values ​​of the Republic, and the far left, which threatens some of the core values ​​of the Republic, Outburst of anti-Semitism shocked manythe French will once again choose the common sense of “Macroni”, the pragmatic politics of the center-right.

Some officials in his entourage, who insisted on anonymity in line with French political convention, said the notion that Mr. Macron was unwelcome was nonsense. They cited as evidence his appearance this month on the streets of the Normandy town of Bayeux, where about 3,000 people turned out to greet him, far more than the 800 expected.

“A lot of people may not like Macron, but they respect him,” said one official.

It takes courage to change a country that resists any attempt to weaken its social model. In seven years, Macron has slashed unemployment, made France attractive for fast-growing foreign investment, fostered a thriving start-up technology sector and worked to convince the French that The retirement age of 62 is no longer reasonableAnd led the country through the COVID-19 crisis.

Yet Macron is unable to shake off the arrogant image shaped by his elite schooling and the concerns of French people struggling to make ends meet away from the knowledge economy in big cities.

Today, this failure is also being accompanied by a wave of people stepping down as the regime ends, as Macron’s term has expired and he must leave office in 2027.

The results are already clear. The latest Ifop-Fiducial poll this week showed Macron’s party and its allies taking just 21% of the vote in the two rounds of elections on June 30 and July 7. The National Rally was well ahead with 36%, while the New Popular Front (which includes parties ranging from the Socialists to the far left) took 28.5%.

Hostility toward Macron is so strong that many centrist candidates have insisted they do not want his image associated with their campaigns.

In many ways, Macron’s decision to dissolve the National Assembly and call elections typifies his highly centralized style of governing, which he governs on his own terms and at his own behest, even by the standards of the Fifth Republic, which was established in 1958 and gave the president vast powers.

“He never gave up even a little bit of his power to exercise collective power,” said Hakim El Karoui, a private consultant who specializes in immigration issues that have been at the heart of the National Alliance’s rise.

Even Macron’s own government is in disarray. On the night of the European Parliament elections, a group of just four people reportedly floated the idea of ​​dismantling the European Union, including Bruno Roger-Petit, a former journalist who serves as Macron’s adviser on France’s national memory. An account in Le Monde This statement has now been widely confirmed.

That led Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who has had to work to stabilize France’s economy since the snap election was announced, to describe Macron’s advisers as “lice” in a television interview last week. Unpredictability is not something investors like, and France’s debt has already soared from support for workers and businesses during the coronavirus lockdown.

Macron’s former prime minister, Edouard Philippe, who is widely seen as a 2027 presidential candidate, declared this month that “it was the president who destroyed the majority in the presidential election.” He also said, “We are moving on to something else, and that other thing cannot be the same as before.”

That is almost certain. The National Rally is likely to be the largest party in the new National Assembly, even if it may not win an absolute majority. It is also possible that Macron’s party will come in third, behind Le Pen’s party and the new Popular Front representing the left.

This would then be a “clarification,” but one that would contain a doubling of ambiguity.

If the National Rally does secure an outright majority, Mr. Macron may have to appoint Ms. Le Pen’s popular protégé, Jordan Bardella, 28, as prime minister. Mr. Bardella could then choose his cabinet. France has had “cohabitation” before, but never two people with such diametrically opposed beliefs.

Even if the National Rally fails to win a majority, Macron will face a deeply divided parliament that is more unmanageable than the one he chose to dissolve, and could plunge him into political chaos for months to come. He has denied he would resign under such circumstances.

Mr Macron remains steadfast in his belief that he will be vindicated. “I have no defeatist spirit,” he declared recently.

Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist mayor of Paris, disagreed. She accused Macron of sabotaging the Olympics. “Why ruin this beautiful moment by holding an election without consulting anyone?” she asked.

On June 18, Macron attended a rally commemorating Charles de Gaulle’s famous broadcast from London on that day in 1940, calling for resistance to the Nazi occupation of France. That occupation soon gave rise to the Vichy government, which collaborated with the Nazis, and is an unsettling memory for many who fear the far right.

When a boy in the crowd asked about Attard, Macron said: “He could be my brother.” Shortly afterwards, Attard, 35, who has agreed to lead the centrist campaign in the election, showed up at the same place and was told about the swap.

The Prime Minister, clearly confused or incredulous, responded: “What did he say?”

In any case, Macron’s decision to hold early elections has surprised his compatriots: what the final outcome will be is the most frequently asked question by the French today.

Ségolène Le Stradick and Katherine Porter I contributed to the coverage from Paris.

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