Next week, France will celebrate its Bastille Day: it was the take over of a French prison on July 14, 1789. On January 21, 1793, they beheaded their King and his wife. Since that barbarian regicide, France has constantly been oscillating between a fundamental monarchism that admires the “king” (even if he is the President of the Republic) and a profound desire to assassinate him.
France is a Monarchy
The paradox of this year’s Bastille Day, is that Emmanuel Macron invited Donald Trump to be his guest to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States in World War I by president Woodrow Wilson on April 2, 1917. US troops will take part of the military parade on that occasion. Needless to say, the discovery of a plot to assassinate Macron on July 14 is making it a high-risk ceremony. It will be a high risk ceremony.
“Les Ors de la Republique” will enhance the monarchist dimension of the country, as did his declaration at the Versailles Palace and the ceremony of the burial of Simone Veil, a remarkable Jewish, French and European leader at the Invalides, both built by the “Roi Soleil” Louis XIV.
Despite beheading their King, the French continue to use their palaces and monuments to celebrate the Republic. However, France is a Presidential regime that does not even allow the impeachment of the President. The French people seem to rediscover that basic fact while Emmanuel Macron clearly aims at restoring the reputation of the Presidential function. Two thirds of the voters agreed with this vision. Adulation is not far away.
France is a Republic
However, with names like “absolutist” , “authoritarian” and more recently “Jupiter”, the French criticize this image of a young and new President who changed 75% of the Parliament and implemented a parity between men and women in his administration.
The media who played a despicable role during the campaign (as they did in the United States) continue to favor the “opposition” or the populism: They give almost the same exposure to a populist with 17 representatives than the President’s speech talking to 900 elected parliamentarians.
For liberals and particularly intellectuals, it is almost unthinkable not to protest against the expression of the French monarchy, while they destroyed Francois Hollande for “doing nothing”. This would be folkloric if it were not making France a socially unstable country. The trade unions are up in arms and after the two months of “vacances annuelles”, intend to disrupt the French economy.
My French friends did not give a chance to Macron to get elected even though the right and the left were in complete disarray. Of course, he would “never” have the parliamentarian majority and the traditional parties would come back to form the Government. Whether they were socialists or republicans, they did not even manage to be represented at the second round of the Presidential Election.
Macron’s government will execute the program of candidate Macron. Interestingly, as a former socialist with strong connections with the corporate world, Rene Philippe, the new Prime Minister, outlined this Tuesday a balances and reformist program that aims to reduce poverty, enhance education and environment protection.
The confidence in France and withing France is clearly improving with polls showing record approval rates. Europe is relishing the prospect of a resurgence of Europe after the probable reelection of Angela Merkel. Together, they might reform Europe and solidly anchor Europe as a social-democracy, far from the excesses of US capitalism. It is the last chance to relaunch the 60 year-old European project.
In this context, the current President of the United States is a unique opportunity to unite Europeans against an administration that they perceive to be illiterate, unpredictable and unethical. Will the gesture of Emmanuel Macron to invite Donald trump to parade at the Champs-Elysees reduce the tension? Will it change his negative view of Paris ? Will it affect if view of the Paris agreement on climate change? The narcissistic President will certainly relish the moment and his wife’s Paris shopping spree is already commented everywhere. Will the historic reference to the late and decisive entry of the United States in World War I be sufficient to compensate for the photos of the two leaders?
Egos are increasingly decisive in today’s media-frenzied politics. Besides those considerations, France “tend la main” to the United States, over and beyond the personalities and strong handshakes of their Presidents. It’s all that matters.
Beyond monarchism and regicide, Emmanuel Macron is the only one who can reform France for the next five years. He intends to do just that. For France, Europe and the world, it is important that he succeeds.