Emmanuel Macron's first year in power - could do better

Getting France back to work...or so the boy wonder hopes.
Getting France back to work...or so the boy wonder hopes.
By Robert Hackwill
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The young president came to power promising to shake things up. But has he taken France a step back to presidential pomp and popular confrontation?


A year ago one Frenchman's extraordinary gamble paid off.

A man who many saw as an outsider won one of the most consequential French presidential elections of recent times, not just for France, but for Europe too.

"Our task is immense. And it will require us to build, starting tomorrow, a real majority, a strong majority, a majority for change. It is what the country aspires to. It is what the country deserves," said Emmanuel Macron in May last year on the night of his electoral triumph.

For this observer, the "kingly" talk at the presidential palace, the pilgrimages and processions, the sycophancy of Macron's hangers-on and trappings of power all look more like l'ancien regime than a brave new world.

Desire for change is precisely what made it possible for the then 39-year-old former banker without elected office experience to sweep into power.

"The main theme of the French election last year was relationship of the French people to their political leaders. And what came through in every stage of the election is that they wanted something new faces, fresh, new ideas. And Emmanuel Macron was at the right place at the right time," says the author of "The French Exception", Adam Plowright.

He was elected to shake things up, starting with France’s economy. He promised to produce growth, create jobs and reduce fiscal deficits, to turn France into a "startup power". So how has he done?

The beaten Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon repudiates Macron's European credentials, by reminding people he sided with big business to vote down European parental leave reforms - Macron is only European when it's a question of helping out big business, he claims.

"He wants to do everything very fast. He came into power and he immediately announced what he was going to do and that is on multiple fronts all at the same time. And he is pushing that because I think he realizes that he has a window of opportunity at this early stage of his mandate that he can really start these reforms simultaneously and they will hopefully bring results towards the end of his term," says Plowright.

But a year on the novelty has worn off and Macron’s ambitious reforms are being met by an enormous amount of resistance. Strikes have been paralyzing multiple sectors of the economy, and anti-government demonstrations often turn violent. These are the people who have yet to buy into Emmanuel Macron’s vision for their future. According to recent polls, they make up sixty percent of French voters

"While President Emmanuel Macron is having a difficult time at home, internationally he seems to be on the right track to place France back on the world stage. Brexit, Syria, the Iran nuclear deal or even the war in Yemen. There seens to be no hot topic the French President will shy away from He’s comfortable presenting France’s ideas and rejoices in being perceived as the new leader of the free world," reports euronews' Anelise Borges.

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