Emmanuel Macron, a president extolled or hated

Extolled or hated, Emmanuel Macron, president both seductive and brittle, even brutal, has gone through a tumultuous five-year term with a consummate art of adaptation and by practicing a solitary and vertical exercise of power.

His mandate, marked by the exceptional international health crisis of COVID, ended in the din of the war in Ukraine, which completely relegated the French presidential campaign to the background.

Very involved diplomatically even before the start of the war on February 24, the French president – also current president of the EU – positioned himself above his competitors and only announced his candidacy very late, on March 3. . An advantageous posture, consolidating his stature as head of state, but also risky, because it could make him appear distant from the daily concerns of the French.

“The chameleon president”, as the daily Le Monde described him, remains after five years in power a personality still difficult to define.

The youngest president France has ever had, the former economy minister of ex-socialist president François Hollande, who had never been elected before, was propelled to the top in 2017 at just 39 years old, in Masterfully using his image as an outsider, neither right nor left, and surfing on the disintegration of traditional parties.


He was elected with 66% of the vote, in a context of record abstention, against the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. A match that has a good chance of being replayed on April 24.

Surrounded by a loyal court of thirty-year-olds who worked in advertising, consulting firms or high administration, Mr. Macron, a pure product of the system, ex-investment banker at Rothschild, has constantly shown a desire to surprise, even to shock.

Ready for clan reflexes, as when he refused in 2018 to dismiss his trusted man Alexandre Benalla, whose involvement in a whole series of dubious cases was revealed by the press – and who was also sentenced in 2021 to jail.

Author of poker moves, when he launched “a great national debate” with the French after the revolt of the “Yellow Vests”, a social protest movement which seriously undermined his five-year term in 2018 and 2019 before withering away – but never be truly resolved.


He also took risky bets, in particular that of refusing in the midst of a pandemic a new confinement demanded by experts and ministers in January 2021, but this decision will ultimately be credited to him. He ends his mandate more popular than his two predecessors, François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, were during the same period.

If he almost arouses adoration among his inner circle, Mr. Macron is also one of the presidents who has triggered the most “hate”, according to journalists Nicolas Domenach and Maurice Szafran, authors of the book “Macron, why so much hatred ?”. “I had never seen demonstrations where children drag guillotines under the applause of the crowd”, was astonished last month on France 5 Mr. Domenach, remembering the demonstrations of “Yellow Vests”.

The head of state, although coming from the left, saw himself very early on described as “president of the rich” and of the urbanized elites. The two parallel decisions at the start of his mandate, the abolition of wealth tax and the reduction of housing aid, “printed a terrible mark”, according to Mr. Domenach.

His proximity and his extensive use of consulting firms, pointed out by a recent Senate report, further damaged his image at the end of his term.

Added to this is a series of little phrases dropped during the five-year term and felt to be contemptuous or arrogant, about the unemployed who “just have to cross the street” to find work, people “who are nothing” or the “lazy” refractory to any reform.

At the end of 2021, Mr. Macron assured during a television interview that he had “acquired a lot more respect for everyone” and admitted having been able to “hurt” people.


Before launching a few weeks later that he “very much wanted to piss off the non-vaccinated” … A sentence that ultimately did not shock the French so much, 90% vaccinated and who, after a difficult start, instead praise the president’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Abandoning his liberal reformist clothes, the president has indeed opted for massive social and economic aid during the pandemic. According to the executive, this so-called “whatever the cost” policy, coupled with the structural reforms undertaken during his term of office, has borne fruit, since economic activity has rebounded markedly in France in 2021, with growth of 7%.

Moving on certain ideological grounds, Mr. Macron, on the other hand, has never departed from a solid pro-European creed.

Finally, his private life, romantic and unpublished, exerts a certain fascination. The young Emmanuel Macron, born in 1977 in Amiens (north) in a family of doctors, met his future wife, Brigitte, in high school. He was 16 and she was his drama teacher, 24 years his senior, married and mother of three children. They married in 2007 and form, in the words of the First Lady, a “fused couple”.



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