France’s parliamentary elections still hang in the balance. Macron’s supporters might fail to gain an absolute majority due to radical left gains. But what might seem rather odd to some is that Macron’s followers represent the right in this contest, while he represented the left during the presidential election. Is France confused about whether it still defines left and right according to its original social-ethical meaning (which started in France after all) or the more recent economic definition?
Regardless, the scary thing is that Macron only represents economic liberty for some, but he is no liberal in any meaningful sense.
This shouldn’t be surprising since he has disdained the ultra-liberal label himself. Though he has actually called himself a centrist liberal, (yet he has also rejected the centrist label), as well as a man of the left and simply a liberal in his own book Révolution.
Before that, Macron was a member of the socialist party and government (and called himself a socialist), yet he helped to repeal decades old economic security (though I don’t think the taxes paid for it were ever reimbursed) and later he jumped the sinking ship and charted his own course, pretending to not have been a real socialist (just a minister in their government) and challenged Marine Le Pen’s populist platform with his own alternative populism, all while eschewing the populist label.
Since then he has been called a social democrat, a centrist, a social liberal, a neo-liberal and even a libertarian. The only consistent things about Macron seems to be that he is neither a reactionary, a fascist or a communist.
The most consistent thing about Macron seems to be his extreme Europeanism and stranding out amongst weird politicians with his marriage to his former high-school teacher (whom he fell in love with as a minor).
While I am not the biggest fan of attacking politicians regarding their personal lives, this honestly makes Macron seems unreliable in fighting child sexual abuse and makes it not implausible that he would be understanding towards at least some practicing pedophiles.
Regardless, Macron has shown himself to be polarizing and faced horrendous approval ratings, though he got re-elected (albeit with a smaller margin; with more than 40 % now willing to vote for a candidate often called far right).
Macron has been the President under whom the Yellow Vest movement started. Too many he represents the worst of both worlds and yet no real proper alternative can be found. Like Biden in the USA and Rutte in the Netherlands he represents old school social liberalism, moderate leftism that appears centrist in radical circumstances. Establishment politics yet with a weird renewal populist flavor, a gradual moving towards ever more social ethical change and free market reforms that are viewed as favoring the rich.
But none of this is really what concerns me. It’s Macron’s crack down on home-schooling, the reasons for it and how it went. Home-schooling has been allowed in France since before the twentieth century yet Macron turned against it in the name of fighting Islamic extremism, even though this unfairly targets the native population and ignores the fact that most Islamic extremists weren’t and aren’t home-schooled in France.
Macron initially planned to almost entirely outlaw home-schooling but eventually watered down the law though, although it was still very oppressive, after criticism from the Council of State (which opposed the law entirely) and it was passed through the lower house (controlled by his party) stopped in the senate (controlled by Gaullists) and then that veto was overridden by the lower house.
While senators appealed the law, the Constitutional Council (closest thing France has to a constitutional court) allowed it to (mostly) stand (and contradicted the constitutional interpretation off the Council of State). The Constitutional Council’s members don’t have to be professional judges (why it’s arguably not a court) and 3 are chosen by the President, 3 by the speaker of the senate and 3 by the speaker of the lower house.
While constitutional amendments required parliamentary approval, these are yet to be implemented through the proper laws. Former presidents can serve on the council a practice actually identical to Kazakhstan but few liberal democracies. Dissents cannot be published either.
If the senate cannot properly veto laws, the danger of majoritarian tyranny isn’t far away, especially when judicial protection is weak as well and the nation is a unitary state.
The use of disturbances and threats to curtail tradition liberties, to the point of mandating state education, is a dangerous trend often found in totalitarian states. The state creating or enabling a crisis and then seemingly blaming the citizenry is a frankly despicable demagogue practice, (though elements in the army still blamed him for not dealing with crisis properly and subtly threatened with a coup, which considering France’s history might end up being important).
With Covid passes, the previously mentioned coup threats, yellow vest protests, protesting police officers and a high number of terrorist incidents, Macron doesn’t appear to be able to create unity or order and he himself undermines liberty, supposedly in the name of republican values.
With fanatical socialists and communists being unusually popular and some on the right embracing Vichy traditions, will Macron’s centrism usher in general extremism? Zemmour became a viable candidate in the age of Macron. An admirer of Napoleon and defender of Vichy. The Centre Is decaying yet becoming totalitarian.
Will France usher in the beginning of a new age of civil wars in Europe?