Eugénie Bastié’s editorial: “Emmanuel Macron back in the countryside, by the right?”

In her editorial this Wednesday, November 9, Eugénie Bastié, journalist at Le Figaro, looks back on President Emmanuel Macron’s speech last night.

Ninth speech since the Covid crisis, this intervention was less expected than the others. Despite the alarmist from the JDD last weekend on 500,000 dead, the scary figure, the usual mechanics of preparation by the anguish distilled by the statistics did not really work. Everyone has actually moved on, and during the debate on the right-wing primary on Monday night, no one spoke about the health crisis. Emmanuel Macron understood it well: conditioning of the health pass to the third dose for people over 65, of course, but no vaccination of children, as was demanded by some Diafoirus professors.

But the real issue was not there, it is a real entry into the campaign to which the President of the Republic has engaged. And the day after the LR candidates debate, it’s as if a new right-wing candidate had entered the running.

A “candidate” Emmanuel Macron on the hunt in the territories of the right?

The emphasis on the value of work, the announcement of the launch of new nuclear reactors (complete about-face compared to the start of the five-year term) and finally, the astonishing proposal for a suspension of unemployment benefits for job seekers which are not considered to be in active research, are so many nods to the classic right-wing electorate.

This last proposal, inherited from Nicolas Sarkozy obviously echoes the right, even though Valérie Pécresse proposes the degression of allowances and Xavier Bertrand him to lower them in case of refusal of a job offer. It arouses indignation on the left and embarrassment on the right. Emmanuel Macron takes this risk because he knows that the majority of French people are on the right. While the health crisis has made him widely open the floodgates of public spending, he also wants to show that he is still capable of reforming. And to embrace this Juppeist right, mildly liberal and resolutely Europeanist centrist who is no longer at LR.

Right, yes, but only in terms of work value. He also tries to shift the debate of ideas from the field of identity and migration to that of the economy where he is more comfortable. Purchasing power rather than the war of civilization. “Economy first”, such could be the summary of the speech last night, where the migratory question modestly renamed “demographic challenge” or insecurity were only tackled on the fly. The President of the Republic castigated the “return of nationalism” and made the bet that the return of growth will be the best guarantee of his re-election, even if it means leaving aside divisive questions. To see if the happy economy will be enough to reassure the French about their destiny.

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