Emmanuel Macron will address France in the coming weeks in what is being billed as a ‘Message of Unity’ speech. According to Le Monde, the president is aware that the country is in turmoil but he believes he can make France great again. ‘The role I have assigned myself is to hold the country together,’ Macron is quoted as saying. ‘Between denial and over-dramatisation, there is room for lucidity that involves examining the country’s problems but also not letting it fall apart.’
Those problems are many, from a cost of living crisis to violent crime and much in between. The French have a reputation for not looking on the bright side of life, but there is little to be cheerful about these days in the Republic. Even the Olympic Games, which are coming to Paris next summer, have turned into a source of anger and embarrassment for millions.
Much of the discontent is directed towards Macron. His enemies sense that he is floundering. The swagger has gone, and with it much of his authority. So, too, the respect of his adversaries, domestically and internationally. Macron talks but no one listens.
Last week encapsulated his diminishing stature. The president became embroiled in a row after he hosted a Jewish ceremony at the Elysée Palace. Didn’t he or any of his advisors anticipate the furore that would erupt? Admittedly, much of the outrage was faux, manufactured by politicians – mainly on the left – who accused him of betraying France’s cherished laicite, or secularism. But that’s not the point. In inviting France’s Chief Rabbi, Haïm Korsia, to light the first of eight candles and mark the start of the Jewish festival of lights, Macron was also inviting criticism.
A president of the Republic should not be seen to favour one religion over another.