- Emmanuel Macron spoke on Thursday to present his solutions to the crisis of “yellow vests”.
- After an address of nearly an hour, he answered the questions of journalists present at the Elysee Palace. Democracy, taxation, education and immigration were mentioned.
- No surprise on the bottom of the ads, but a willingness to change the method in the speech of the president.
“You can only create a surprise with a dish once,” said Joel Robuchon. A week after his ads leaked in the press, Emmanuel Macron has presented before the French and international press invited to the Elysee. There have been some novelties, but on most measures the President has not delivered details, relying on the future work of the government or Parliament. The question-and-answer session with the journalists did not leave any surprises.
The surprise surprise effect
Forced to cancel his speech on April 15 after the fire of Notre-Dame de Paris, the head of state saw his speech published in the media and almost all ads unveiled. Ten days later, he presented these same announcements on taxation, decentralization, public services, in a speech much longer than expected.
The Elysee had announced about twenty minutes of introductory remarks, Emmanuel Macron finally spoke for an hour, shortening the question-and-answer session, which lasted about 1:30. And diluting his words, according to the political scientist Olivier Rouquan: “We could expect after the past months to a keynote speech more collected and stronger, with proposals that could mark the continuation of his five-year term. This length has made the exercise lose its strength, “says the associate researcher at CERSA.
Less announcements than December?
Do the ads on this Thursday also suffer from the comparison with those drawn at the end of 2018? On December 10, the president drew a bunch of proposals on purchasing power, for a total cost of 10 billion euros. «Yellow vests had then obtained a real inflection of the quinquennium, “notes Alexis Lévrier, historian of the press, lecturer at the University of Reims.
On Thursday, the president drew up major projects, on the ecology, with the creation of a “Council of ecological defense” (gathering the ministers) and a “Council of citizen participation” composed of 150 French drawn lots in June, whose first mission will be to “redraw all practical measures to help citizens on climate transition”. “Most of the topics he has discussed tonight have very long deadlines, at 10, 15 years,” notes Bruno Cautrès, director of research at the CNRS.
On taxation, the head of state could be more concrete, promising a 5 billion euros annual decline in income tax, in response to a journalist. “But he did not say who will benefit from this decline, and the setting that will make the government will inevitably disappoint some French,” warns the researcher. Moreover, this decrease must be financed by the elimination of “tax niches for companies” but also “the need to work more”.
On the renewal of democratic life, Emmanuel Macron announced the lowering of the threshold of signatures of citizens for a referendum of shared initiative (RIP), from 4.5 million today to 1 million. But he rejected the compulsory vote, the recognition of the white vote, and limited the citizens' initiative referendum (RIC) to local matters, without saying whether it will be binding or purely advisory.
A president in the field?
One of the few things that were not part of the leak was immigration. Emmanuel Macron addressed it this Thursday: “Schengen no longer works (…) To welcome you must have a house, so you need borders, rules (…) We must profoundly refound our migration policy. For Bruno Cautrès, in approaching this theme, “he is clearly in campaign, while The Republic in progress and the National Gathering are elbow-to-elbow in the polls”. In his January 14 letter to the French, the president asked them if they were in favor of annual immigration quotas. Without deciding on Thursday, he announced an “annual debate” in Parliament on the subject.
A mea culpa?
The head of state also spoke at length about him and his report to his office, at the request of some journalists. “Basically, he tried to take his mistakes and put in place a presidency and a more modest, less hyperpresidential. He insisted a lot on the role of the government and the Prime Minister, “said Alexis Lévrier. “He seems to have learned from the yellow vests crisis. But it is in contradiction with the form of this conference: he was seated, made long monologues, the government did not have the floor, and he remained very Jupiterian in his answer on the Benalla case for example. His communication techniques have turned against him a little.
In fact, it will be up to the government to turn the test after this press conference. He must meet in a seminar on Monday.