Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Is Macron the French Trump?

OK, he isn't a right wing populist like Trump, but he does have one big thing in common with him: he, like Trump, believes he's repealed the laws of politics. He, like Trump, believes he can do and say lots and lots of unpopular things and not suffer the standard, negative consequences.
Hey Emmanuel--it's not working! The yellow vest protests have thrown France into a tizzy. It turns out unpopular policies are, well, unpopular. Sheri Berman on the Monkey Cage blog:
"Initially, protesters demanded a rollback of the proposed diesel tax increase. Although diesel prices in France have risen in 2018, French fuel prices are not particularly high in comparative terms. Tax rates overall, however, are extremely high; in 2016, only Denmark’s were higher.
But the diesel tax increase was merely a trigger; the real cause of the massive outpouring of anger and frustration lies deeper. The diesel tax increase was the latest of several reforms proposed by Macron that would disproportionately affect France’s least well-off, including abolishing a wealth tax, making it easier for companies to hire and fire employees, and fighting unions.
More generally, France remains plagued by long-standing social and political problems. Unemployment is high, growth is low and divisions — between urban and rural areas, highly educated cosmopolitans and less-educated “left-behinds” — are increasing.
Macron came to power promising to deal with these and other problems, but the reforms thus far led many to dismiss him as another member of an out-of-touch elite. His aloof personal style — and several well-publicized disparaging remarks to those less well-off, including that they should “stop whining” and simply “cross the street to find a job” — lead growing numbers of citizens to view him the “president of the rich.” As the protests swelled, the yellow vests’ anger became increasingly aimed at Macron and, more generally, at an establishment that seems unwilling or unable to address their needs.
Macron faces the most serious crisis of his presidency, with popularity numbers at a new low — matching the worst figures achieved by his predecessor, Fran├žois Hollande. The yellow vests, on the other hand, have approval ratings of over 80 percent."
Guess Macron and his En Marche movement have not reinvented politics after all. The old rules still apply. And the May European parliament elections loom. Something tells me Macron/En Marche are in for a very unpleasant election.
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Macron came to power promising to be the solution to populism.

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