Will Emmanuel Macron be remembered as the great reformer? Or will he be “yet another failed French president”? His presidency has been marked by street protests, marches, strikes, and riots. His EU reforms have been met by intransigence and foot-dragging from European capitals, led by Berlin.

In 2018, President Macron raised the price of diesel in an effort to encourage French motorists to switch to (less polluting) petrol. In response, the gilets jaunes (or “yellow vests movement”) took to the streets with such ferocity and anger that Macron was forced to hold a “Great National Debate” to demonstrate he was listening.

In 2019, Macron pressed the reset button on his presidency. Yet, following attempts to reform France’s “unsustainable” pension system, the nation experienced a wave of strikes. Commentators are joking that, if events continue as they have, Macron may soon need a pension himself.

Analysts argue that Macron’s reforms are necessary. Pension systems in France (and across Europe) are struggling to cope with ageing populations supported by a dwindling workforce; diesel is up to four times more polluting than petrol, and its price has been kept artificially low by the French government since the 1970s; even the most ardent europhile admits the EU is in desperate need of reform.

Yet Macron often comes across as aloof, elitist, and out of touch. He makes gaffs which play into the idea he doesn’t care about the less wealthy. He has a public image as a “president of the rich”. Critics argue that Macron consistently fails to convince the public and bring them along with his reforms.

Is Macron making the tough choices France needs? Or will his reform efforts (both domestically and at the EU level) be judged a failure? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – palinchak


32 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Alexandra

    Nobody really understands what he is doing. On the one hand he is good on European and world politics, saying we need a european army and that Europe cannot just be free market Europe but has also to be a society project that protects its citizens, and in France he does all the contrary, letting the free market into everything, crashing public services. I would like to believe it’s all a plan that will end well but I’m afraid he is losing the plot.

    • avatar
      Matt

      I’m glad I’m not alone in being confused. As a European, Macron is our most important and most visionary leader. As a Frenchman, Macron is a disaster and is responsible for worsening the socio-economic conditions that have fractured Western politics in the first place.

  2. avatar
    Chris

    No. He and Orban are ideological twins who work for the big capital. They are neoliberals who work against their people.

  3. avatar
    Любомир

    He is a disaster for Europe.

  4. avatar
    Christopher

    Macron makes the tough choices HE and HIS FRIENDS need. He doesn’t care about anything else.

  5. avatar
    Nikolai

    He is just doing what has to be done – just as Thatcher did what had to be done to avoid a collapse of the system. France is now going through what Germany went through in the early band mid-1990s (welfare system reform – Hartz IV), and what most of Eastern Europe endured in the 1990s. In terms of internal politics, Macron is doing the right thing – opening France to the global world and clamping down on old-style unions impeding progress.

  6. avatar
    Stavros

    France is in dire need of reforms that will open its economy and make it competitive in the 21st century. Let’s hope that Macron will manage to beat the syndicats and the other vested interests and will deliver the much needed changes.

    • avatar
      Alexandra

      you are really out of touch with reality.

    • avatar
      Stavros

      I guess being in touch with reality means that I would have to support pension at 52 for rail workers?

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Economy, capital, rail workers… What about the firemen, the nurses and doctors, the lawyers… ? All of them have to much privileges? Retirement at 52 it’s absolutely false. I encourage you to read and learn about their status before saying anything. Competitive? In a world with such an enormous problem: the potential end of the human beings, you keep on talking about competitivity? It’s so easy to talk about something you have no clue. The syndicates they fought for you to have your holidays. It’s seems we quickly forgot where we come from when we climb the steps…

    • avatar
      Audrey

      Economy, capital, rail workers… What about the firemen, the nurses and doctors, the lawyers… ? All of them have to much privileges? Retirement at 52 it’s absolutely false. I encourage you to read and learn about their status before saying anything. Competitive? In a world with such an enormous problem: the potential end of the human beings, you keep on talking about competitivity? It’s so easy to talk about something you have no clue. The syndicates they fought for you to have your holidays. It’s seems we quickly forgot where we come from when we climb the steps…

  7. avatar
    Olivier

    Not a European affair. Macron was elected by the stupid French people.. They got what they voted for… The real problem is… Has Macron the real power… Is the power not in the hands of Europe and multinationals

    • avatar
      Jude

      thank you for considering the French as stupid….whatever they would have voted,it is the E.U. and the commission that organises what is going on in Europe. ..and you know that .

    • avatar
      Olivier

      Pour le reste les français me paraissent divisés irréalistes frondeurs.. Parleurs et faibles acteurs somme toute assez stupides quand ils ne sont pas menés par un homme à poigne

  8. avatar
    Bódis

    France is overtaxed and mismanaged, and the country probably gets robbed by the oligarchy.

  9. avatar
    Audrey

    I am quite surprised about the tone you have in your text. Actually, the Yellow Vests are not against ecology but against the decision of the French government to encourage the capital instead of the citizens. It has been discovered that the Diesel Tax planned by Macron was not to tackle the Climate change but to reduce even more the taxes of biggest companies (information available on internet!). Just has a reminder, Bernard Arnault became this year, the second richest man in the world, just below Jeff Bezos. In 2 years, he doubled his capital. In addition, randomly he is a close friend of M. Macron and Brigitte, Macron’s wife, educated M. Arnault’s children. Many coincidences, don’t you think?
    In France, we have three words that define our country: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Fraternity means solidarity. Just after the Second World War, the french government decided to create the national social security. Who are we if we do not help each other? We cannot break the link between people just for money. France is not the only country that has this kind of manifestation. It is a signal. We cannot interpret this just as goats to keep their “privileges”.

  10. avatar
    Maria

    What is he doing? France is a Socialist country and he is no Margaret Thatcher

  11. avatar
    Emmanouil

    He is tough but he must be more!

  12. avatar
    Vassiliki

    Why are we focusing on France? What are the tough choices?

  13. avatar
    Valentin

    Nobody from the french political scene can’t stop socialism.Macron was a puppet for corporations. Now is going down.

  14. avatar
    Paul

    Yes, but whether he can succeed as did Thatcher and Schroeder in the 80s & 90s remains to be seen.
    It interesting that the polls show the majority in France think the reforms necessary, but don’t trust him to deliver them equitably.

    • avatar
      Nikolai

      The problem is what is considered equitable. There are quite a lot of categories of workers – e.g. railworkers who no longer have hard work conditions as they used to do in the past (which is why they retire at 52), but want to retain their privileges. No reform can be absolutely equitable to all. What is most important is for it to be equitable for most people.

    • avatar
      Paul

      as is often the case, public reaction is not about facts…is about perception.

    • avatar
      Nikolai

      Well, the French government (and other governments for that matter) must find a way of explaining things clearly in a way which even the most uneducated person would understand.

  15. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Is Macron making the tough choices France needs?

    From this article one has to believe the French people do not believe the stumpic (Amish word meaning short and thick) president is coming up to their expectations. In fact, it appears he is the equivalent of our Blair creature, who still believes he has sway over British people.

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1216328/france-strikes-paris-protests-emmanuel-macron-pension-reform-yellow-vests

  16. avatar
    Chris

    No. He is a neoliberal who tries to destroy France’s social system. But French people won’t allow his cruel plans to happen.

    • avatar
      Oliver

      Except, of course, that many, many more people elected him in the first round already than are protesting against him.
      But thanks for telling me that Germany’s social system has been “destroyed” just because people can’t retire in their fifties without mitigating circumstances.
      Claiming it’s “cruel” to have to work to 60 or 65 is hilarious – all the more when one expects others to work longer so they can pay for those who retire early.

    • avatar
      Chris

      Oliver Hauss 1. I never said that the German system is broken. Germany is irrelevant. 2. Working until burnout is not a virtue. It is a wasted life. The maximum age for working should be 60 years. In Bulgaria some economic ,,experts” propose to work until the age of 70. If the French people let Macron’s ,,reforms” happen, he will soon destroy everything that was accomplished during the whole Fifth Republic.

    • avatar
      Oliver

      “I never said that the German system is broken. Germany is irrelevant.”
      No, it isn’t, cf. #2
      “Working until burnout is not a virtue.”
      Hyperbole is not a virtue – and irrelevant. Working until 60 or 65 is not “working until burnout”, unless you do physically or mentally extremely taxing work.
      “The maximum age for working should be 60 years”
      Says who? There are people in academia, for example, who are passionate about their research and when they retire with 65 in Europe, they move over to the US because they they want to continue to do research.
      In Germany, the standard retirement age is 65 – all without people being completely burned out at that point.
      ” In Bulgaria some economic ,,experts” propose to work until the age of 70. ”
      Bulgaria is relevant, but Germany isn’t? Thanks for demonstrating that you couldn’t make an honest argument if you tried.
      “If the French people let Macron’s ,,reforms” happen, he will soon destroy everything that was accomplished during the whole Fifth Republic.”
      He was elected to do those reforms, and your hyperbole only underscores you have no rational argument to make.
      You’re not even capable to stick to those standards you tell others to stick to.
      People live longer and are healthy longer, that means significantly more recipients of retirement money than previously. To that, the French situation adds a host of different systems and retirement ages that drives up both the administrative costs (hint: that’s money that could go to retirees) and the number of recipients even further.
      It’s presumptuous to suggest that someone pushing papers at SNCF should be able to retire long before someone doing hard physical work. That has nothing to do with fairness. If someone is burned out, there’s the possibility of early retirement. But you’re not really concerned with burnout. That’s merely a pretext, because you make demands completely independent of that situation or even the probability of it arriving.

  17. avatar
    Enric

    France (his party) or France (the people)?

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