Unknown only three years ago, Emmanuel Macron ascended to the presidency of the French Republic without the support of a single traditional political party. An advisor and later a government minister to a very unpopular President, not only he benefited from circumstances that expelled his main rivals from the race, but he also seduced the French people with the charm of his smile and youth. What got him elected, then, was a real “tour de magie”, a magic trick.
The French believed Emmanuel Macron when he said that he was in disagreement with François Hollande, although he never uttered a single word of criticism of the man and/or of his policies. He spoke of the “gravity of the present situation” in France, without ever uttering a word about its causes and who might be the source of it. They believed in his promises of 60 billion euros’ worth of public spending savings “by way of making ministers accountable”, without going into the specifics of a single one of these cuts. He promised a renewal of the political class, without renouncing the support of seasoned professionals such as François Bayrou, Gérard Collomb, and Jean-Yves le Drian. He suggested that training the skill-lacking unemployed would provide them with qualifications while creating jobs.
Emmanuel Macron ignored the French excess of public spending and even promised to spend more. He downplayed the country’s glut of bureaucrats, promising to reduce their numbers by 120,000 over a five-year time period (50,000 for the State and 70,000 for the local authorities), without providing a single detail on how he is going to do so. He has ruled out reforms on the 35 hours’ work week or on the retirement age. He assures us that he will simplify France’s legal code, without specifying which laws will be simplified. He will cut unemployment insurance expenditures by 10 billion euros while making it universal, covering also for those employees who have voluntarily quit their jobs.
Macron has promised to reform the pension system without affecting retirement income or the retirement age. He has promised to cut the unemployment benefits for those who refuse two reasonable job offers, a law which already exists (see article 5412-1 of the Labor Code). He has promised to give the force of law to company agreements, a convention which already exists (see the EL Khomri law). He has promised that “any prison sentence pronounced will be executed”. He has even promised to halve the number of days of pollution in the country.
In short, Emmanuel Macron has provided the French a dream.
His charm and his magic can be summed up in the following words: the denial of reality.
When reality rears its ugly head, the magic will vanish. The dream will be over.