The increasing desperation of Emmanuel Macron

His letter to the electorate is the most tone-deaf declaration so far from a president who has led France into a political swamp

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President Emmanuel Macron of France (Getty)
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President Emmanuel Macron finally broke his silence and rediscovered the magical breath of his “baraka” as he took to the airwaves last night. He gave an inspiring speech offering a new political settlement to reunite the French, calling on his nation to be steadfast and confident in its greatness.

Correction: Macron did nothing of the kind. Instead, far away at the NATO summit in Washington, he sent a desperate letter to local newspapers promising that something will turn up. Eventually.

What Macron is hoping for now remains enigmatic and implausible

This letter to the electorate is the most tone-deaf…

President Emmanuel Macron finally broke his silence and rediscovered the magical breath of his “baraka” as he took to the airwaves last night. He gave an inspiring speech offering a new political settlement to reunite the French, calling on his nation to be steadfast and confident in its greatness.

Correction: Macron did nothing of the kind. Instead, far away at the NATO summit in Washington, he sent a desperate letter to local newspapers promising that something will turn up. Eventually.

What Macron is hoping for now remains enigmatic and implausible

This letter to the electorate is the most tone-deaf declaration so far from a president who has led France into a political swamp. It’s the equivalent of Winston Churchill announcing in the Hastings Chronicle that Britain will fight on the beaches — with buckets and spades.

“No one won” the election, claimed Macron disingenuously. Although in truth the left did win, and he lost. 

The president “is in a denial of reality,” declared Manon Aubry, a Mélenchoniste MEP, if he imagines “building a solid majority.”

CNEWS — the dissident news channel owned by Vincent Bolloré that the government media regulator Arcom is threatening to drive off the airwaves for declining to toe the line — was contemptuous: 

The Head of State, mute since the second round, said that “no one won” and called for “a wide gathering” of “republican forces”, asking the French to “leave them a little time”. Thus, “the current government will continue to exercise its responsibilities.”

Mélenchon last night declared: 

Unique in the democratic world: the president refuses to recognize the result of the ballot that placed the Nouveau Front Populaire at the top of the votes and seats in the Assembly. This is the return of the royal right of veto on universal suffrage. He claims to give time to form another coalition by trickery after the elections! This is the return of the intrigues of the Fourth Republic. That’s enough. He must bow and call the Nouveau Front Populaire. It’s simply democracy.

Marine Le Pen, wallowing in the humiliation of her enemy, said: “If I understand correctly, in his letter, Emmanuel Macron proposes to block the Nouveau Front Populaire that he himself helped to get elected three days ago. This circus is becoming disgraceful.”

International pundits (including many in London, Berlin and Brussels) on Monday were cheerfully declaring that Macron had won his bet by calling elections in which, in alliance with the left, he pushed Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National to the sidelines. Mort de rire (dying laughing) as they say here.

What Macron is hoping for now remains enigmatic and implausible. The Elysée is briefing that discussions will continue to cobble together a centrist government, excluding extremes, and this might take some time.  

Macron’s carrots are cooked. As Andrew Neil has pointed out, the biggest group in the new Assembly is the Left Alliance (NFP) which has 182 seats. But that is made up of four distinct parties. Mélenchon’s hard left have seventy-four, the Socialists fifty-nine, the Greens twenty-eight, and the Communists nine. The next biggest group is Macron’s centrists, with 168 seats. This is made up of four elements: Macron’s party on 102, various Democratic centrists on thirty-three, the Horizon Party of former prime minister Édouarde Philippe on twenty-five and eight other seats.

Then there’s the right-wing Rassemblement National with 143 seats, made up of two groups. There’s also the center-right Republicans, with forty-six seats and a hodgepodge of smaller parties with thirty-nine seats between them. The single largest party in the assembly is Marine’s, which took 37 percent of the popular vote. With a smaller share of the vote, the Labour Party in the UK just seized complete control of Parliament. Democracy works in mysterious ways.

At least 289 is needed in the Assembly for a majority. Macron has a potential pool of 168 — although even that is shaky as the leader of the right-wing faction of the Republicans said this morning that he wouldn’t play ball. The ability to count is indispensable in politics but for Macron, supposedly the Mozart of finance, the sums don’t add up.  

All the perfumes on sale in the chichi boutiques of the Faubourg Saint-Honoré cannot hide the stench of Macron’s failure. His maneuverings have reduced his centre to ruins, embiggened the loony left, privileged the right with immunity for the shambles and created an Assembly dominated by furious leftists.

His cunning plan has let his enemy Marine Le Pen snatch a victory from defeat. She is now revelling in a catastrophe wrought by the president for which she bears zero responsibility, other than her insolence in having thrashed Macron in the European elections in early June and subsequently taking 37 percent of the vote in the Assembly elections that followed.

Macron continues to evade all responsibility for the disaster his dissolving the National Assembly caused. With his hissy fit he has destroyed his own credibility, threatened the credit of France, and invited ultra-leftist extremists to imagine they are entitled to form a government.

Even the Macron-friendly Le Monde, quintessential organ of the bien-pensant Paris bubble, is struggling to hold its nerve:

Emmanuel Macron arrived behind the scenes at the NATO summit, without a word or a look for journalists. The tenant of the Elysée thinks he has put more than an ocean between him and the political crisis that is shaking his country.

If this is an accurate description of Macron’s state of mind, his insouciance is chilling.

We will celebrate Bastille Day on Saturday and in my own commune will cheer the Tour de France as it whizzes by. The mayor will give prizes to the new baccalaureates. And a glass or two will be shared in the Place de la République. A calm amid the tempest. But even here in deepest France, people are on edge. A poll published this morning shows eight out of ten French people are anxious about the current political situation.

The Olympic Games open in Paris in fifteen days, a juicy target should the frustrated left descend on the streets. The Games were supposed to be the ultimate global stage for Macron to strut. Now they’re the stage for a summer of discontent. 

The president’s rash promise to swim in the Seine to prove it is safe for open-water swimming remains unfulfilled, because all the tests show the river remains hopelessly fouled with human feces. If he does dare take to the still-contaminated waters, it will be a perfect metaphor for a presidency that has plunged into a sewer.

This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.