Macronism: The centrist ‘En Marche’ movement that dodged French fascism to position itself as the authoritarian regime of France.

When Emanuel Macron was elected in 2017, the French and the Liberal world cheered his victory over the French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen. The mainstream media largely ignored his egocentric and narcissist streak that went as far as using his own initials in the name of his political party, En Marche.  Early on, Macron scoffed at his predecessor’s ‘normal’ style of leadership and instead made his intentions of leading with a ‘Jupiterian’ style crystal clear. This style feeds into his arrogance where he owes no explanation for any decision he makes. During his victory speech, the country’s youngest elected president gave assurances of keeping “France united and defending and protecting Europe”.  Yet, four years on, Macron’s France is deeply divided on every front, be it economic, cultural or social.

Macron’s economic policies largely ignore vast sections of the poor or for that matter even the middle class. According to the INSEE (The French Nation Institute of Statistics and Economic studies) figures of 2019, over 8.8 million French people (roughly 14%) are poor. Macron simply brushed aside the genuine grievances of the Yellow Vests movement – Les Gilets Jaunes – and dismissed them for months until he finally admitted that the tax he had imposed on them was unfair and targeted the middle classes, but not the rich. What makes matters worse is that he took a U-turn on his measures only after relentless striking by the angry masses. It is now increasingly evident that Macronomics means that those with modest incomes are hit the hardest. Whether it comes to paving the way for France`s green transition , or when it concerns Macron’s technocratic measures of innovative tax structures, those with modest income are squeezed dry while Macron’s oligarch group remain untouched and his every step boosts their wealth.

There was a desperate need to back Macron because his victory had prevented a regressive hattrick in the eyes of many. In 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave Europe and Donald Trump waddled into the White House. The Liberals were petrified of the possibility that Marine Le Pen would make her way into the Élysée Palace. The media played its role in presenting Macron as the face of a ‘new’ France, and played into his narrative of a self-made man. In truth, Macron was made by the rich and he has proved his loyalty to them by passing laws to create exceptional wealth for them. Henry Hermond, the French businessman, media executive and political advisor and the co-founder of the think tank Terra Nova, put his entire resources at the service of Macron and the En Marche movement. Hermond was Macron’s mentor and paid for the expenses of his marriage and lobbied for him until his very last day. It is through these circles that Macon fraternised with the billionaires of France who backed and funded his election campaign. For all his claims of ushering a new era, Macron has used the same old money resources of France, North Africa and the African dubious trade deals dubbed as Françafrique[1]. In fact, early funding for Macron’s campaign came from Algerian moguls like Ali Haddad and Issad Rebrab. Interestingly, both these businessmen have been arrested and imprisoned on charges of corruption and fraud.

In fact, Macron, who had never even stood for a local election, made his way into the François Hollande government with the help of Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the then General Secretary. Macron’s only experience until then was in the banking business with the Rothschilds of the world. One could have expected him to put policies in place to expand his vision of a neo-liberal economy. According to the Macronomics, offering massive tax cuts to the rich is expected to create a trickle-down effect. The perception is that the super-rich will use these funds to create more jobs, which in turn will lift people out of poverty. However, in a globalised economy there is no guarantee that those who are offered massive tax cuts will invest in France and particularly in sectors that need revitalisation. The reality is that that those tax cuts only further enrich the super-rich. A recent study of the Institute Montaigne – an institute that traditionally supports his policies – concluded that Macon’s policies have benefitted the super-rich the most.

Macron’s law on Separatism has debunked the myth that he would be able to unite France. The controversial law was passed in July 2021 in silence with virtually no opposition from the Liberals who know full well that it stigmatises Muslims. The law specifically targets Islam and Muslims who are not in conformity with French secular values. It covers a broad range of issues from education and dress code to religion and culture, clearly highlighting Islam as unwelcome in France. While no one can deny that France has suffered violent Islamic terrorist attacks, the country is home to roughly 7 million Muslims and this law clearly stigmatises them.  France has no immigration policy in place whereby the 500,000 immigrants (the vast majority of whom are Muslims) who enter France legally every year are put on a path of integration or assimilation. There is no policy in place to diversify France’s immigration portfolio and invite immigrants who are likely to integrate faster into French society. Instead, the newly arrived tend to find comfort in their community that is now increasingly becoming detached from the French way of life. If Marine Le Pen had voted a law on separatism, the mainstream media would have called her out as racist and fascist, but Macron’s actions have gone almost entirely unnoticed.

But the cherry on the icing is Macron’s law to exclude French citizens who are not convinced of the COVID-19 vaccination drive. Last month, he passed a law mandating the use of a green pass or pass sanitaire to enter restaurants, bars, trains or planes even for domestic travel. Barely half of France has been vaccinated and France remains the most sceptical country in Europe when it comes to the vaccination. No other country has resorted to bullying without giving its citizens time to decide and allowing for progressive debates to back the vaccination. Unsurprisingly, more people have descended onto the streets and the number of disgruntled citizens keeps growing.

In fact, one of the first tax reforms Macron made no sooner had he sat on his throne was the removal of the solidarity tax, which amounts to about €4 billion and could have been redistributed to those with modest incomes struggling to make ends meet. Interestingly, the budget for the CNRS (The French National Centre for Scientific Research) is just €3.6 billion. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, even the IMF is proposing a solidarity tax for those who have amassed wealth by arguably predatory means during these times. The fact that the National Scientific Research Centre has a budget lesser the wealth Tax collection explains why science has been railroaded in the very land where Louis Pasteur advanced the principles of vaccination. Macron’s authoritarian style and misplaced priorities have provoked more people to rally against him, his projects and his priorities to protect his billionaire funding for the next elections in 2022.

And so, France goes down her old historic route of civil unrest with a Jupiterian president disconnected from his populations and ploughing ahead for an unequal and divided society with ample fuel to start a fire.

[1]Le grand manipulateur, Marc Endeweld ,2019