The adoration has clearly gone to Macron’s already swollen bonce. He’s acting like a ‘liberal strongman’, says Politico, seemingly intending it as a compliment – he’s setting out to defend the so-called liberal order while garbing himself in the pomp and power of the old French monarchy. On Monday he summoned parliament to the Palace of Versailles, echoing ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV’s pronouncements to the nobility. And his team are talking up his ‘Jupiterian’ approach – a reference to the supreme Roman god, standing above the fray with thunderbolts in hand.
It’s not just the imagery that’s autocratic. In his Versailles speech, he laid out plans to streamline parliament. He wants to cut a third of MPs from the National Assembly, restrict representatives to two-term tenures, introduce a ‘dose’ of proportional representation, and cut back on unnecessary lawmaking. These tinkering policies may not seem much on the face of it. But as one academic pointed out, all of this will serve to shore up executive power – emboldening bureaucrats over representatives, and filling parliament with newer, less battle-ready MPs.
Macron has styled himself as the successor to de Gaulle, the father of the Fifth Republic who redirected power to the French presidency amid times of imperial crisis and parliamentary gridlock. Under the guise of ‘getting things done’, and pushing through his controversial labour-law reforms, Macron is similarly seeking to disempower the parliament and boost the executive, which already has far fewer checks on it than, say, the US presidency. And yet for all the media fearmongering over Herr Trump, Macron’s machinations seem not to have worried commentators or the global elite.
That is all from Tom Slater. And here are brief remarks from Corey Robin. Once you understand endogeneity, it should come as not a huge surprise that “the candidate you want” so often ends up resembling “the candidate you don’t want” more than you had expected.