France’s Macron Defends His Business-Friendly Stance

A few excerpts from Adam Nossiter’s article on President Macron’s speech at Versailles.  Mr. Nossiter had previously strongly criticized President Macron for his forthcoming law on « fake news » (Les médias selon Macron: « daddy knows best » ou « il faut écouter papa » , which you can find on our site). As regards President Macron’s speech… as the title says they are just words of a President who needs to defend himself.

Maria Rodriguez-McKey

By Adam Nossiter

  • July 9, 2018

PARIS — Faced with declining poll numbers and suspicions that he favors the rich, President Emmanuel Macron of France fiercely defended his business-oriented approach in a speech on Monday, declining to renounce policies that have seen decreases in taxes for the wealthy as well as in protections for workers.

“If you want to share the cake, you’ve got to have a cake,” Mr. Macron told a joint session of the French Parliament, in what he has established as an American-style annual state of the union address. “It’s misleading to fight for employees if you don’t also defend companies.”

… But the changes have yet to improve the quality of life for most people in France — unemployment still hovers around 10 percent — and there is increasing grumbling that he is neglecting the social safety net, which is sacrosanct in France.

…The warning signs have come not only from polls measuring esteem, or absence of it, for Mr. Macron.

Opposition politicians, largely invisible in his first year, have become increasingly bold. The French are indicating that they do not agree with the president’s oft-repeated assertion that the left-right split is outmoded, and that he occupies the ideal center.

A recent poll of voting intentions for next year’s European Parliament elections found the far-right Rassemblement National (which until recently was called the National Front) at 19 percent.

Mr. Macron’s political movement, La République en Marche, stood at 23 percent.

In Monday’s speech at Versailles, Mr. Macron cited his “humility” up front and pleaded for more time for his “transformations to take hold in the country.” But he then proceeded to stick to the guiding philosophy of his presidency: a rejection of welfare-state redistribution, an insistence that generalized prosperity is the key to lifting disadvantaged people out of poverty, and an American-style emphasis on equality of opportunity rather than outcome.

.. One of the most anticipated, and feared, of Mr. Macron’s promised overhauls are cuts to France’s vast government expenditures, which at 56 percent of economic output are one of the highest in the West. Mr. Macron said on Monday that his prime minister would present “strong and courageous choices,” but said nothing concrete.