Macron flirts with the presidency
France's Minister of Economic Emmanuel Macron gave strong hints in a speech at the first meeting of his En Marche movement on Tuesday that he will run as presidential candidate in the French election next year. "Nothing can stop us now. We will carry this movement forward into 2017, and to victory," he told his supporters. Can this outsider have a decisive impact on the election campaign?
Cacophony on the left helps the conservatives
The French economics minister must take care that his latest move doesn't backfire, warns Libération:
“Macron has improved his chances among the small group of future presidential candidates and displayed organisational talent and skilled rhetoric. In this way he has given the left-wing liberalism the guardians of the Socialist temple find so annoying a voice and a face. … He is entitled to defend his ideas, but only provided the music doesn't hurt our ears. It's good to have different instruments in an orchestra - as long as they all keep in time. On Bastille Day, less than a year before the presidential election, this brass band needs to tune up its trombones. If it fails to do so and causes chaos, it will smooth the way a little more for a victory of the Right.”
Macron voices what the French feel
The plan of the founder of the En Marche movement could pay off, the Handelsblatt believes: [Macron] voices what many French people feel, because he puts his finger on the true state of affairs in a country that has enormous potential, but is paralysed by its narcissistic political elites who cling to the past: [The French] won’t put up with the rituals of the left and the right any longer, the ritual of wheeling moth-eaten ideologies out of the cupboard time and again to engage in the same old sparring match. … Macron, on the other hand, demands that politicians face up to reality and he also stands by Europe. That’s why the election campaign will be different this time, unpredictable, even if he himself has only a slim chance of winning. What he has to deliver now are solutions. The role of the tribune who leads no party but is simply the voice of the people can be sustained for a couple of months. After that he will have to say what he actually wants.
Freedom from ideologies an illusion
According to a current poll Emmanuel Macron is the politician the French would most like to see as Socialist candidate in the 2017 presidential elections. The centre-right magazine Le Point explains why Macron is so popular:
“He is the perfect response to the French people's vague desire to go beyond ideology and confrontation. He says he is looking for good ideas on the left and on the right. Nevertheless this is an illusion. It's dangerous to think that you can go beyond ideological opposition on all fronts. From the economy to society to foreign policy, contrasting ideas are not only inevitable but also necessary to the health of democracy. In particular the idea that the left can be liberal on economic matters is neither a heresy nor a novelty, and has brilliant forerunners such as the economist Jean-Marc Daniel. Macron is a true progressive in all areas: so in fact he does have an ideology.”
Change is in the air
Emmanuel Macron's new political party "En Marche!" and the nightly protest movement "Nuit Debout" both exemplify the need for change, the centre-left weekly magazine L'Obs comments:
“'En Marche!' and 'Nuit Debout' are two sides of the same coin: the end of a political system whose representativeness and legitimacy are increasingly being questioned. ... Both movements stand for a cultural struggle aimed at bringing new impetus to the old, exhausted system. Certainly there's no guarantee that the Minister of Economy will camp out with the other protesters on Paris's Place de la République. Or that the activists of 'Nuit Debout' will join 'En Marche!' en masse. Nevertheless if the trendy slogan of 'combining struggles' can unite the young rebels in both movements, the established (political) world had better look out.”
The country needs clear front lines again
Macron's movement is mistaken in emulating the Front National and refusing to be labelled as left or right, the liberal business paper La Tribune believes:
“The danger is that voters will soon only be able to choose between two movements that refuse to be pigeonholed into left and right: the one for purely economic and the other for purely nationalistic reasons. That's why the left-right divide must regain its full meaning, extract itself from the idea of an economic revelation and revive the debate on the country's economic policy. Then the people must decide. What is harming the country is not the divide itself, but the inability of politicians on both sides to stand behind their choices and push through their policies. This debate, as well as respect for the commitments that arise from it, are what gives democracy its force.”