Wednesday, 1 February 2017

FRANCE: E.Macron: Reinventing Politics

Emmanuel Macron, France's former economy minister, has reinvented France's politics with a new concept: ''the catch-all party'' or the party that attracts from all sides, beyond social classes and, above all, beyond the classic split between right and left.

The concept evokes a very non bureaucratic party with weak organization but marked by a centralization of power in the hands of the leader and his immediate entourage. This party, as result, may morph into a so called charismatic party built around a single individual. That's the potential drift in such a party without an adequate organizational infrastructure: only the leader can keep it together. Political scientists label this kind of party as ''catch-all''.

Emmanuel Macron's ''catch-all'' party can be defined by its ability to attract individuals holding
completely different points of view, voters coming from varying perspectives, men and women from the left as well as the right.

France, with Emmanuel Macron, is witnessing the birth of ''catch-all movement''. What is more, France is watching the birth of a catch-all candidate--even the initials of the movement (EM) match those of the person himself. EM (Emmanuel Macron) leads EM( En Marche), the tip of the pyramid is branded by catch-all man, catch-all candidate, a messianic movement focused on this ''designated candidate''.

The electorate of this catch-all movement/candidate is gradually being defined according to the demographics uncovered in the polls, but it seems to have crossed the Rubicon and goes beyond this left-right split.

Emmanuel Macron is the ''catch-all-candidate'' in terms of the personalities surrounding him: ecologists more to the right such as Corine Lepage, elected socialists such as Gerard Collomb, stalwarts of the UDF and New Centre such as Jean Marie Cavada, protégés of the current government such as Pisani Ferry, liberal envoys such as Alain Minc. There is a long list but it does underline how the old political cleavages have left behind. Socialists, right-wing liberals, Greens, Centrists..it is all there with him.

Since the launch in April last year of his political movement ''En Marche!!'', which means ''Forward'', Emmanuel Macron wishes to become president at age 39. Macron has potential as new standard bearer, His youth is a sensation in a country that has been governed for decades by a group of politicians who all seem to look alike, with the same faces, the same names and the same résumés. He succeeds over and over in striking the right tone. He can sound conciliatory, but also brash and demanding. But he always remains polite and never raises his voice.
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Macron is an exceptional phenomenon in times of nationwide discord. He stands out starkly from former colleagues, who often act just as haplessly as the president. Even the once-popular former Prime Minister Manuel Valls is no longer particularly appreciated by the French and is widely seen as sullen and authoritarian. By contrast, Macron can say what he wants and people still like him. He can rave about Europe, which he views as major accomplishment, not obsolete concept. And he can praise German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her refugee policy and explain why France cannot remain the way it is: paralyzed, stuck and depressed.

Indeed, this is yet another reason why his former colleagues in the Socialist Party cannot stand him. Some see him as too imposing and ambitious. For others, he is a ''wolf in sheep's clothing'', a neoliberal in disguise who is determined to undermine the French welfare states:  A left-wing candidate in a pinstriped suit who skewers the doctrines of the left---and reaps applause for his actions from the right---violate a taboo in a country in which political life remains subject to a rigid right left paradigm.

To Macron's credit, he has jolted the French awake and striven to rouse the country from its state of stupefaction. Instead of seeking to appease the public, he sees it as his mission to galvanize the French into action. Moreover, this is coupled with a tremendous sense of self-confidence that consistently shines through and makes you wonder where in the world it comes from.

Indeed, Macron means business. He says that he wants to reinvent politics, that he wants a new deal for Europe, a new social contract for France. But he has never had to stand for election. His role models are the great socialist European politician Jacques Delors, and former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, a pragmatic reformer. Sometimes it seems as if Macron sees France as Sleeping Beauty and himself as the Prince.

It is balancing act. Macron, who portrays himself as ''antisystéme'' (non-conformist) and very popular among right-wing, older professional voters, has the opportunity now to expand his support base, attracting voters coming from varying perspectives, men and women from the left as well as the right.

In the future we shall be asking ourselves whether this ''catch-all movement'' will not simply become a messianic movement for the greater glory of Emmanuel Macron with the simple goal of replacing the ''state bourgeoisie'' now on top with a new circle of insiders.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist
World Affairs Expert

Photo-Credit: Getty Images -photo: Emmanuel Macron