Last week the French chairperson experienced celebrity trips from Rihanna and Bono. But as political world gnaws, his ratings have begun to drop

A young manager processions to role promising sweeping change and buoyed by hopes that he will introduce a brand-new mode of politics to supplant a rejected foundation. He seems to walk on water and to be in touch with his times as he injects fresh life into international picks and invites pop idols to the official residence. Tony Blair 1997 or Emmanuel Macron 2017; Cool Britannia at Downing Street or, as we saw last week, Rihannaand Bonoat the lyse Palace to discuss world education and poverty.

But if it took half a dozen times for the Blair halo to lose its lustre, the French chairperson is already facing negative mentions that he is a bit extremely good to be true, that he is proving too big for his boots and that his predicted brand-new start for France will run aground on the familiar difficulties that stymied his precedes. Undeterred, nonetheless, by the analysi and descending canvas counts, Macron forged ahead last week with initiatives wandering from nationalising the countrys biggest shipbuilder, STX France, to presiding at a join where Libyas two main rival captains agreed to call a ceasefire and hold elections, as his wife Brigitte bounded down the steps of the palace to salute Rihanna.

Three months after his poll became inevitable as he faced the rightwing Front Nationals Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential engagement, the inevitable is continuing to happen. The youngest of French chairwomen is growing embroiled whether he likes it or not in the everyday business of government. He says he wants to rule as a Jupiter operating above the political upheaval as he delivers thunderbolt judgements and educations. His prototype is Charles de Gaulle, who built the semi-monarchical chairmen of the Fifth Republic in 1958 to enable him to rule above defendant disagreements in a way that would bring the French together behind his leadership.

It didnt used to work fairly like that for members of the general, who was forced into an unwelcome run-off ballot at the 1965 general elections and resigned 4 years later after losing a referendum poll. In France, partisan political disagreements and push from vested interest never will be eliminated. The question is whether the president can gain enough expressed support for transcend them, as De Gaulle did in the early years of the Fifth Republic, or whether they dictate episodes, as has happened under Macrons three predecessors.

Tuesday: Macron agents a meeting between warring cliques in Libya. Photo: Jacques Demarthon/ AFP/ Getty Images

As spring turned to summer, the former investment banker, whose previous government ordeal consisted of two years as economy executive under Franois Hollande after serving as an adviser, was going high. The luck he had enjoyed since launching his presidential safarus a year earlier, and the skill he indicated at manufacturing the most of it, propped as resists bickered and his shift seemed the obvious answer to the hole in the middle of French politics.

His 65% tally in the presidential run-off was followed by a sweeping victory for his new defendant Rpublique En Marche!( REM) at legislative elections where it triumphed an overall majority in the National Assembly. The mainstream opposition parties, the Socialist and the centre-right Rpublicains were humbled and fractioned. There was snarling from the hard right and left of Marine Le Pens Front National and of Jean-Luc Mlenchons La France Insoumise( France Unbowed) and four ministers were forced to step down over the complaints of misuse of funds or political funding chicanery. But the presidents favor rating in the ballots rose from 62 to 64% in June as he set out his Jupiterian stall in a didactic style reminiscent of De Gaulle on themes ranging from African civilisation to Frances responsibility for the round-up of Jews in Paris in 1942.

Not content with domestic affairs, he sought to raise “the two countries ” world-wide profile with a number of gratifies with foreign leaders designed to ram home the word that France is back after the lacklustre Hollande presidency. The economy perked up in line with a general upswing in the eurozone.

France seemed a hard line on Brexit. Macron focused on improving the relationship with Angela Merkel as an essential element in his ambitious plans for reform of the euro area. He received Vladimir Putin at Versailles, reading him a assignment about Ukraine and Russian information while indicating at a most flexible attitude on Syria. Despite laying out his differences with Donald Trump on globalisation and climate change, the 39 -year-old president invited his 71 -year-old American counterpart to the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-lyses, where the visitor enjoyed the military prove but seemed nonplussed when the Republican Guard cracked into a synchronised routine while playing a medley of slams by the French electronic duo Daft Punk that had Macron and the assembled dignitaries applauding their hands.

Then reality started to cast a shadow over the king of the gods. His authority began to implement practical steps to achieve aims he had laid out during his election campaign. Shortening the budget deficit to the EU target of 3% and realizing its national economy more competitive means measures that may sound good on paper but are unwanted when put into practice. Such as cutting members of the military budget by 850 m something that caused a huge public sequence and the abandonment of the head of the armed forces this month. Such as cutting dwelling subsidies and social security allowances which triggered widespread dissents, heightened when the governmental forces unveiled the proposals put forward by part lifting of the property charge. Such as the plan to tighten the labour laws to increase position armour prompting unitings to mobilise for street dissents in the autumn.

Macron and his ministers have their reasons. Liberalising the elephantine labour code to make it easier to volley staff in a downturn should diminish the unwillingness of employers to take on brand-new proletarians in an upsurge. Hoisting the affluence tax on speculation wished to encourage rich people to settle money into start-ups. But potential impacts, coupled with attacks from the opposition of presidential authoritarianism in dealing with the armed forces bos, the 60 -year-old Pierre de Villiers, be used to help draw Macrons opinion poll rating last week down 10 points to 54%, lower than either of his two predecessors, Hollande or Nicolas Sarkozy at the same theatre of their presidencies.

Wednesday: Brigitte Macron greets Rihanna at the palace. Photo: Imago/ Barcroft Images

The intention of the honeymoon was inescapable, and Rihanna and Bono or the Republican Guard bopping on the Champs-lyses are not going to do much about it. If he is to keep his credibility , not only at home but too with the all-important partner in Berlin, Macron has to stick to his grease-gun. He may be encouraged by the rise in economic growth and a fall in the long-running scourge of unemployment. By nationalising the countrys biggest shipyard last week to impede an undesirable Italian merger and by talking of the EU applying European preference in government procurement programmes, the president is showing that as well as being a defender of free trade and globalisation, he too perpetuates the age-old Colbertist stripe of look out France first, which ever plays well.

But deities ever have troubles dealing with mere people, as De Gaulle found in the end. The sour humor that gained sand in France over the past two decades should make it easier for Macron to implement the kind of changes he predicted, to modernise outdated organizations and free up the all-powerful state. But that requires a leap of faith from citizens which has now been let down by subsequent heads of state and of government since the mid-1 990 s.

Macron has to fight against that heritage. Doing so may require some low-down politics as well as didactic entreaties as he faces the risk of being a social takeover dtat from Mlenchon. The question is whether the president represents a real desire for change from the essentially conservative course in which vested interests of left and right have repeatedly blocked progress and politicians have not been was prepared to hazard unpopularity since Jacques Chirac retreated from the programme of reforms on which he was elected in 1995.

Or will Jupiter, very, quail? If he does , is not merely will conservative France have won again, but Europe will be lessened. If he does not, his notoriety will fall further, whoever he invites to the palace. As the country settles into its long summer violate, the test facing the inhabitant of the lyse looks like the most important issue for Europe.

Jonathan Fenby is author of The History of Modern France: From the Revolution to the War on Terror, and The General: Charles de Gaulle


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