The Strange Macron Revolution

Emmanuel Macron, President of France

In a call back to something we talked about on this week’s show, I wanted to dip out of the American orbit for a second and take a jaunt back across to Europe. It’s been about a month since Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency, defeating Front National candidate Marine Le Pen by a wide margin, and a good deal has happened since then. Most are simply relieved that the far right candidate did not win, but the fact is that Mr Macron’s quiet political revolution has been a remarkable one.

Mr Macron has been in office less than a month, but he’s already caused a stir on the international stage, with his handshake snubbing of President Trump at the NATO meeting in favor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel being beamed around the world as a sign of defiance, rumors which Macron later played up himself.

On the more positive side of international relations, he’s seemingly clicked immediately with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and looks to be moving towards an ever-closer union on the European stage as well, at least if his friendly outlook towards Ms Merkel’s Germany is anything to go by.

It’s not surprising, given the circumstances, that Mr Macron is being seen as a kind of anti-Trump, embodying the exact opposite of the reactionary rhetoric that we have seen from the US President in recent weeks. However tempting this may be, however, there is at least one similarity between the two men. Both are ‘outsiders’, if one can really call a former minister and a member of the monied elite that, who seemingly came from nowhere to win their country’s presidency.

But if anything, Macron’s rise has been even more dramatic.

Both rose in the space of a year or so, but Macron is building a whole party apparatus with him, rising out of the dust to form the pillars of a new government. His En Marche party was founded in April 2016, and they are now expected to win the largest majority since the days of De Gaulle and take over the French Parliament barely a year into their existence. By any stretch of the imagination this is an incredible achievement, akin to a party forming today and taking control of the House in just over a year’s time, completely nullifying the Democratic and Republican parties in the process. It’s unthinkable isn’t it? Well, it was in France too until it happened.

What’s most remarkable about Mr Macron’s revolution, however, is there is absolutely nothing revolutionary about it. It’s the same set of policies that saw success in Britain and the USA in the late 90s, exemplifying the so-called third way of doing things that purports to position itself between the left and the right. Mr Macron is little more than a traditional centre right politician who, with a little clever marketing, has pushed his ideas as if they are something new and exciting when in fact they are tried and tested policies that should surprise nobody. It’s the most status quo revolution that there has perhaps ever been.

Still, it’s nice to get away from the Trump doctrine every now and again, isn’t it?