By Hanif Ghaffari

Anger is flaring up in France: Macron’s three big mistakes

May 29, 2018

The protests against Emmanuel Macron, the young president of France, are getting wider throughout the country. Macron's economic, educational, and social reforms are in contradiction with "equal opportunities" in France, and this has led to the anger of various different sectors of his procedure.

The highlighted role of trade unions in current strikes against the French government well indicates this. On the other hand, French students have played an important role in escalating the general protests against Macron. But it seems that the French President have come up with the "public opinion dissatisfaction" a bit late! The rise of 80 French cities against Macron's policies reflects the depth of the crisis that the French government has created! Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the stream of economic reforms brought in by Emmanuel Macron since coming to power a year ago. On the other hand, according to recent reports, some parties, groups and trade unions have not yet joined the anti-Macron protests. They believe that such protests should be "social" rather than "political". However, most of the Macron’s opponents have announced that they will take to the streets in near future. Hence, in 2018, we will see a sharp rise in the confrontation of the French public opinion with Macron.

Macron's first mistake: relying on wrong calculations
During the 2017 presidential competitions, the French President could overcome his rival, Marin Le Pen, from the French National Front with 64 percent of the vote. It was widely believed that an important part of Macron's vote was considered to be "privative votes". In other words, many French citizens voted for Macron in the second round of the French elections just to prevent the National Front and Marine Le Pen from entering the Elysee Palace. On the other hand, some of the surveys that were conducted during the early months of Macron’s presence in power led him to make terrible mistakes.

In these surveys, about 60 percent of French citizens were optimistic about their young president. Consequently, Macron came to think that those who voted for him in the elections did so all because of his particular political character. However, Macron couldn’t even imagine such a sharp drop in his vote over a short time.

Now, according to recent polls in France, Macron's popularity has fallen by about 40%. In other words, 57% of French citizens are now opposing his presence at the Elysee Palace. This suggests that Macron isn’t that popular with French citizens any longer. This, to a great extent, was the result of the French president “false self-determination” over his first year in power. To complete this failure, an Elabe survey lately showed that 52 percent of respondents felt his election has proven "a bad thing".

Macron’s second mistake: Confronting French workers and teachers
The young French President now sees many opposition groups rowing before him. Workers, teachers, students, and even official workers of the public sector are among the opponents of Macron’s reformist policies. In other words, Macron has now lost his "political infantry" in the 2017 presidential elections, while only a year has passed since the national elections. Workers and teachers has basically played an influential role in the French presidential election in different periods. During the 2012 presidential campaign, these two groups played an important role in Hollande's victory and the socialists' entering the Elysee Palace. Finally, Hollande could overcome the former president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, with a difference of about 1 percent in the general vote, and stand on top of his country's executive and political affairs. However, Hollande's economic policies were not defined for the benefit of the working class and the French citizens, and thus led to their anger and dissatisfaction with the Elysees Palace. It has reached a point where in 2016, Hollande's popularity fell below 20%. This made the former president prefer not to nominate himself for the 2017 presidential elections.

At this time, Macron has repeated the same mistake made by Sarkozy and Hollande on a wider scale. Accordingly, trade union votes may be driven by rival political movements, and even by the "French National Front" led by Marin Le Pen. Many of the Macron’s opposition groups, who haven’t yet participated in current protests against him, prefer to compensate their discontent at the time of elections!

Macron’s third mistake: Failure to convince public opinion
The third mistake made by the French President was "not trying to convince public opinion" on his economic reforms. The French President believes that removing 120,000 governmental jobs and reducing public finances to face the economic crisis was the wisest decision to make at the time.  Even if Macron’s argument is correct, he has not been able to convince his country’s public opinion about this, and the widespread opposition against his social and economic reforms reflects this fact.

Macron has told his opponents that despite the current protests, he will keep on his economic reforms in France. Besides, the authoritarian approach taken on recent demonstrations has led to more anger among the French citizens.  But Macron has vowed to stand firm, claiming a solid mandate from his election last year in which he swept away the traditional parties. "I'm doing what I said I would," he said.

 But if the current trend continues in France, Macron’s going to face the same fate as Sarkozy or Hollande. Accordingly, there is no guarantee that Macron will be nominated for the second time in the France presidential elections in 2022. In other words, Macron can potentially end up as a "single-term president" in his country's political atmosphere, given the dissatisfaction among his people which is revealed in political and social scenes.

Meanwhile, people like Marine Le Pen from the French National Front are going to stand stronger than before in their competition against the current French President. On the other hand, with the expansion of public protests, traditional French parties including "Socialists" and "Conservatives" will enter the official scene of the protests.

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