Did Macron's Versailles performance go too far?
Speaking to both chambers of the parliament in Versailles Palace, French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants to put France on a "radical new path". Among other things he plans to reform the electoral law, reduce the number of MPs and lift the state of emergency imposed in 2015. Views on the content of his speech and the manner in which it was delivered vary widely in the press.
Donning the Sun King's robe
Macron behaved like an absolutist monarch yesterday, ABC comments mockingly:
“He's keeping the legislative on a short leash and limiting its actions - from now on it is to focus only on evaluating and monitoring key laws that have already been approved, rather than formulating new laws. He's also willing to resort to a referendum to avoid being restricted by the corset of parliament. And he wants to reduce the number of deputies. The French president didn't go into details. His speech yesterday was a declaration of principles and, essentially, a display of power. Macron is in a hurry to make people listen to him and obey him and to ensure that a year from now the laws for institutional renewal are in place, including the abolishment of the Cour de Justice de la République, which tries cases of ministerial misconduct. Yesterday the young Jupiter donned the robe of the Sun King.”
Criticism of Macron is like a boomerang
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung sees no basis to the claims that Macron is acting as if he were a monarch:
“At times French presidents like to play the republican monarch. But that doesn't mean the country is on the path to despotism. And even if the self-assured Macron does have a penchant for grandstanding, one shouldn't criticise him too much for that. The idea is to create a new dynamic, and to organise majority backing for the policies this will involve. Criticism of Macron is like a boomerang: it hits those who are responsible for the years of stagnation and even regression. Precisely that is what the new president's 'radical new path' is about.”
President's wake-up call for France
Macron's speech in Versailles could really bring about change and renewal in France, the Tages-Anzeiger believes:
“Certainly, his plans don't amount to a revolution, as he maintains. But the announced institutional reforms are reasonable and the president's youthful vigour could give the country the surge of energy it so badly needs. ... Macron benefits from the overwhelming parliamentary majority of his party En Marche. Unlike Hollande, he has recognised how important it is to initiate the reform process right at the start of his term. What's more, there's such a sense of disappointment in France over the status quo that the promise of radical change has a huge power of attraction.”
No sign of a real will for change
The speech was far too vague, Libération criticises:
“With this excessively long speech delivered in a 'moderato continuo', the president disappointed the expectations he himself created in scheduling this solemn appearance before the united congress. ... All the while promising that he would confront reality, he remained vague. Not that his words were mediocre or simplistic. On the contrary, his speech was a rhetorical success. But parliamentary eloquence in this republic where the word is valued so highly deserves more contrast, more catchy phrases, more urgency and more changes of tone. ... Let's hope the speech by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will reveal the will to act that Macron proclaimed yesterday without being able to demonstrate.”