Why Macron's victory is no reason to be cheerful
Share This Article:
The French electoral system has truly excelled itself this time. The second round of French presidential elections has always been used to level a vote against the person you dislike, but never in my living memory has it produced a candidate so lacking in substance as Macron. When, in 2002, the loathsome huckster Jacques Chirac beat Jean-Marie le Pen, it could at least be said that some of the 82% of French voters who backed him did so for positive reasons. He had something resembling a policy platform, a stated set of ideals and tangible proposals for reform. Whilst the motivation to vote against le Pen was significant (‘fascist’ better suits the father than the daughter), Chirac’s supporters could at least say what they were voting for. This is emphatically not true of Macron, who has been carried to victory by the tarnished history of his opponents, by virtue of his youth and alleged vigour, by the vacuity of so many of his supporters (I reserve especial scorn for those well-off youngsters who would vote for a dead horse as long as it was draped in the flag of the EU) and by the truly sinister machinations of his political masters. It is worth remembering that Macron is the absolute epitome of an establishment crony. Besides his curious gerontophilia, there is nothing at all which marks him out as a new thing, a serious thinker, a political radical able to fix the beleaguered state. Rather, he appears before us as a finely tuned robot. Behind those clear blue eyes (his only redeeming feature, but I digress…) there are lines upon lines of computer code making innumerable calculations. His whole campaign reeks of les enarques, those graduates of the l’ENA who fill the corridors of the Élysée. Those who bemoan the prevalence in British politics of Eton graduates probably do not realise their own luck, for in France it is worse. On average, roughly one half of all French cabinet posts in any administration are held by l’ENA graduates. And that is to say nothing of the Civil Service, the media, and other organs of the engorged French state. It is because of his l’ENA affiliations that Macron was able to walk into the Inspection Générale des Finances in the Civil Service, stroll from there to an investment bank and make millions, then the Élysée Palace, then into government as seamlessly as though his rise were preordained. (Which, after a fashion, it was.) His political patron, outgoing President Francois Holland, is a fellow l’ENA graduate. Utterly useless as a politician – so unpopular that Benoit Hamon was deemed by their own party to be a more likely President (Hamon polled just 6% in the first round) – Holland is an acknowledged master of the dark arts. Long rumoured to preside over a cabinet noir, one which helped mastermind, with the compliance of institutions – the media, the magistrates – with a heavy l’ENA contingent, the various revelations that so damaged the campaign of Francois Fillon, Holland has repeatedly claimed a significant role in the rise of Macron. We are left to speculate as to the nature of that role, which is unlikely to be entirely wholesome.
- Article continues below...
- More stories you may like...
- Politicians aren’t going to listen on climate change - the revolution must start from the bottom up
- A look back at the record breaking Women's World Cup
- What it means to be proud in 2019