Monday, May 8, 2017

Ça bouge!

Some interesting bits on France2 tonight after the slightly sick-making shots of the "young president" being taken by the arm by the "old president" and "guided" gently through the symbolic rituals of power: the regeneration of the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe, etc. And of course the resurrected footage of young Emmanuel Macron acting in a high school play under the direction of Brigitte Trogneux--who continued to critique his speech preparation 23 years later before a major meeting. Heartwarming, I'm sure.

I was nevertheless more interested in the news that Christian Estrosi, selon ses dires, was offered and refused a ministry under Macron. His support for le jeune ingénu seems to have fractured his majority in the PACA regional counsel, so he is resigning from his post there and falling back on his fiefdom in Nice.

Meanwhile, Nathalie St.-Cricq reports that Macron will choose a PM from the right, possibly the mayor of Le Havre Édouard Philippe. This would have the benefit of splitting the right, St.-Cricq said, adding that it was all being plotted under the watchful eye of Alain Juppé. Meanwhile, Sarkozy, at la place de l'Etoile, had a few words of avuncular advice for the new man of the hour. "Je sais d'expérience que le difficile commence maintenant." Eh oui.

Still just rumors.

A More Light-Hearted Take on the Election

In which I imagine Macron as Robin dumping Batman in order to beat Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Here.

I was notified that a subscriber unsubscribed today because he or she found the blog "offensive, strongly disagree, or disapprove." That's the first time that's happened. Perhaps a Le Pen supporter, who might find this take even more offensive. Can't please everybody.

Le Maire Steps Out

Bruno Le Maire, for whom the knives are out in LR, has made an overture to Macron:

"Traître à quoi ? A nos idées ? Quelle différence fondamentale y a-t-il entre nos idées sur la libéralisation de l'économie, le soutien aux entrepreneurs, la construction européenne, et les idées d'Emmanuel Macron ? Je suis fidèle à mes idées, à mes convictions".
"Il suffirait que Bruno Le Maire se déclare candidat En Marche, il aurait toute sa place dans la nouvelle majorité", a réagi sur LCP le centriste Jean Arthuis, soutien d'Emmanuel Macron.
"Je pense que Bruno Le Maire fait partie de ces hommes politiques talentueux et généreux", a-t-il commenté, plaidant pour qu'il y ait des "ministres de droite, de gauche, du centre" dans le gouvernement Macron. "C'est là le signe majeur qu'Emmanuel Macron va évidemment donner", a encore ajouté le député européen Jean Arthuis.

The Morning After

The speeches are over, the television studios are dark, and it is a holiday in France, VE day, an occasion for somber joy--joy because the fascists did not win the war, somber because so many died in seeing to it that they did not.

For some of us, yesterday was also a day of somber joy. For others it was not. My friend Nico B., who shares none of my satisfaction with Macron's victory for reasons I perfectly well understand, reminds me that among registered voters (not just "expressed votes"), Macron scored 44%, Le Pen 22%, and neither of the above (abstentions plus spoiled/blank ballots) 34%. And of Macron's 44%, who knows how many were strategic voters, casting a ballot for Macron only to block Le Pen?

These figures are a stark reminder of the challenge Macron faces. He will propose major reforms, including what will surely be a controversial overhaul of the labor code (which he has said he will do by executive order, a move that will surely spark cries of "Tyranny!" and put demonstrators in the streets). Whatever he does in this regard is unlikely to produce immediate results. Any improvement in the investment climate due to the victory of a business-friendly candidate will be quickly offset by the negative images stemming from what the French like to call un troisième tour social. Scowling Mélenchon will see vindication in whatever turmoil ensues. And Le Pen will continue to claim that she alone represents la vraie France.

Against this simmering rebellion what weapons does Macron have? On May 15, Richard Ferrand said this morning, the new president will name his prime minister. The choice will be important. It will be the moment to establish a dynamic, if that is possible. It will set the tone for the legislative campaign. En Marche!'s campaign strategy remains murky. It will run its own candidates but also seek alliances. The Socialists seem receptive, while LR does not. But of course the Socialists need alliances, because they are in even worse shape than LR. And any alliance with the Socialists will only further diminish Macron's luster in the eyes of those who chose him only as un pis-aller.

I wrote in my Nation piece that Macron at times seemed to aspire to walk on water. On the day after his election it almost seems as if he will have to if he wishes to stay afloat. He needs miracles--not just a miracle but a series of them. Thus far he's been extraordinarily lucky, but will his luck last?