The Strategist

Is there an alternative to Macron?

12/12/2018 - 09:13

The Yellow Vests protests further hit the rating of French president. The measures to rescue the situation, proposed by him earlier, met with criticism from opposition politicians. Yet, their ratings do not greatly exceed Macron’s figures. A political vacuum has occurred in France, and even unsuccessful political figures are trying to fill the gap.

max pixel
max pixel
Despite concessions of French President Emmanuel Macron, the Yellow Vests protests continued even after the country’s leader appealed to the nation. This Tuesday, French schoolchildren joined the protest action, opposing educational reform and stricter entrance examinations at universities. In addition, French students do not approve plans to increase tuition fees for citizens of countries outside the European Union, which should make French universities "more competitive."

After several weeks of actions, the Yellow Vests refused to stop the protests even after Macron promised to raise the minimum wage and organize new benefits during his address to the nation.

“Perhaps, if Macron would give this speech three weeks ago, it would calm the movement, but now it's too late,” - Daily Mail quotes one of the students of the University of Rennes in France. The newspaper writes that the protests are also expected on the weekend.

The situation, which has been going on for almost a month now, is being attempted by various political forces in the country. The main political opponent of Macron, the leader of the “National Rally” Marine Le Pen, uses the theme of protests especially actively.

“Faced with the protest, Macron refuses his erroneous measures in tax policy, which is good, but he also refuses to admit that his management model is being challenged. This model represents excessive globalization, unfair competition, widespread free trade, and massive immigration with all its social and cultural implications. In short, Macron undertook a strategic retreat!” She commented on Macron’s address to the nation on Twitter.

In her opinion, which she voiced earlier, there is only one way to stop the wave of protests: “dissolve the National Assembly in order to hold new proportional elections”.

In the lower house of the current French parliament, the party of Macron, La République En Marche, controls most of the seats - 308 out of 577, while Le Pen’s National Rally has only 8.

Obviously, Le Pen expects to change the balance of power in the French parliament. However, judging by the results of public opinion polls, she will not be able to achieve serious changes.

According to the latest poll, conducted by Ifop at the end of November, Le Pen’s activity is currently approved by 33% of the French, which makes her the most popular politician in France at the moment.

Le Pen is now more popular than Macron, whose rating has broken another anti-record, dropping to 23%. On the other hand, she has not yet succeeded in achieving the level of popularity that Macron had even a year ago, when he was supported by more than half of the population of France.

 Marine le Pen is opposed to the existing political system, so it is rather difficult to see her as a politician who can update this system. 

Another opponent of Macron in the last election is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the deputy of the National Assembly and the head of the French Leftist Party La France Insoumise. In his assessment of the last appeal of Macron, the left politician was even tougher than Le Pen.

“President thinks that distribution of money will be enough to calm the current stormy indignation of the people,” said Mélenchon. “There was nothing in the statements of Macron regarding the unemployed, part-time people, pensioners, civil servants, and students.”

Separately, he criticized Macron’s reaction on citizens affected by the protests: “Macron made a mistake. He began to scold the people and did not say a word about the wounded."

Mélenchon is confident that the fight must continue, and predicts a wave of protests around the country this coming Saturday. "The civil revolution will be great," the oppositionist promised.

However, his rating is even lower than that of Le Pen, and barely exceeds 20%. If Mélenchon or Le Pen still lead something, then they are likely to radically break and change. That is why there is such mistrust towards them in many ways. Still, they stand out too much and different from the current mainstream.
However, these two are not the only ones who hope to rise on the wave of protests.

Even those whose political career seemed long over are now trying to take advantage of weakness of Macron and to resist him.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday that he was considering returning to politics. According to him, it was precisely the crisis in France that prompted him to think about it.

Even before the Yellow Vests protests, Sarkozy told one of the familiar deputies that his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy called to act wisely. “But have you seen what the situation is? I will have no choice, perhaps I will be obliged to return... There are things that I would have done differently, but I have no bitterness, no regret,” said Nicolas Sarkozy.

However, with regard to the ex-president, experts are even more skeptical. Sarkozy ended his presidency rather scandalously, and then lost the election in 2012. For most French people, he, of course, remained a rather questionable figure.