The scenes of violence between police and demonstrators follow and resemble each other in France with worrying regularity. The streets of Paris, the “city of lights”, are always strewn with piles of rubbish bins. So many signals that indicate the permanence of the crisis in a country that is clearly heading towards a dangerous impasse.
During his two media outings, the interview on French television and the press conference in Brussels, Emmanuel Macron remained straight in his boots, firm in his convictions. Street violence and strong political opposition in parliament did not move him one iota.
For Emmanuel Macron, the adoption of the pension reform by the use of the famous 49.3 which saves him a debate and a parliamentary vote, is all that is legitimate and democratic. As long as constitutional legality is on his side, there is no reason to give in to a bill presented as a flagship reform of his double five-year term. Moreover, the French president is impatiently awaiting the validation of the Constitutional Council to claim to close the democratic path of this reform.
Except that, as the Arab adage says, the winds often take the boats where they don’t necessarily want to go… The demonstrations in the street gradually take on an insurrectionary look. The political parties of the opposition, all political leanings combined, have erected a wake of refusal and criticism of the presidential approach.
Even the Republican party on which Emmanuel Macron had harbored enormous hopes to provide him with parliamentary support, distinguished itself by harsh criticism of the president and the prime minister, Elisabeth Borne. This party of the republican right plays in this part its political survival.
The logical explanation for Emmanuel Macron’s stubbornness in this social crisis is undoubtedly to be found in his deep conviction that the street demonstrations will inevitably end up running out of steam and the political opposition will eventually accept the new political reality once validated. by the Constitutional Council. For the government team, therefore, it is a race against time to save time until the opponents of this reform get tired and kneel down.
This gamble can succeed by causing the rebellion in the streets to lose steam and evaporate over time. How it can fail if radicalism takes over and forces the government to extremely dangerous security harassment to manage over time. It is on the basis of this approach that Emmanuel Macron’s opponents accuse him of playing with fire and running the risk of causing a permanent conflagration.
So mastering the time of the demonstrations and the security reality of the country is at the heart of this showdown between Emmanuel Macron on the one hand and the trade union centers and the opposition parties on the other. The problem for the President of the Republic is that if he does not manage to find solutions of appeasement with the opponents of this reform, he will have participated in further damaging his relationship with the country, a situation which will call into question the whole of the reformist agenda which remains for him to unfold for the rest of his second mandate.
Sign of the bad times that await him, one of the other key reforms of his mandate, the great and ambitious law on immigration, carried by the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, has already been scarified on the altar of anger of the parliamentary opposition. Emmanuel Macron can always threaten to continue to manage the affairs of the country by the mechanical use of 49.3, but that would sign his great failure and would throw more oil on the fire which would create the conditions for a victory of the next motion of censure against the government, thus forcing Macron to dissolve parliament and call early legislative elections with their share of possible surprises.
Internationally, Emmanuel Macron is already losing ground. The postponement of the long-awaited visit of the new British King Charles III came to embody the international impact of this French crisis. The anger in the streets will have somehow sabotaged the French president’s international agenda. And this French crisis invited itself to the summit of the heads of state of the European Union in Brussels and relegated to the background questions supposed to be more important and more strategic.
Moreover, at this level of the French crisis, if it lasts under the tense conditions predicted by certain observers, Emmanuel Macron could lose his luster when it comes to dealing with and proposing solutions to international conflicts. His speech could be degaussed. Being weakened internally would certainly reflect on its posture and its credibility internationally.