It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When Emmanuel Macron decisively defeated the populist princess Marine Le Pen (who I wrongly predicted would win against Macron the Macaroon), the corporate press hailed him as the savior of the globalist agenda. He was going to defeat populism, tax everyone in his country to death, and, of course, encourage diversity. Some things went wrong with the plan, though.
Just how unpopular is he? Emmanuel Macron currently polls around 20% approval, depending on who you ask. That’s not a good number. Not at all. That means that only about 1 in 5 French people support or approve of their president. It can’t be called a vote of confidence by any means. The reigns of power are slipping from his fingers. In a normal democracy, this would be the breaking point. But as always, there’s a catch.
Emmanuel Macron isn’t in any rush to step down, in stubborn defiance of the historic pressure facing him. He’s quite content watching the protesters burn Paris to a smoldering ruin from France’s presidential palace, the Elysee. There can be no better mental image to describe the situation: Working people from all walks of life in France frustrated that they can no longer make ends meet releasing their anger upon the once picturesque and now widely destitute and polluted “city of lights.” Fires ignite the skyline while Emmanuel Macron sits in spoiled comfort, sipping the finest Burgundy vintages as the people of France riot in the street. He has lulled himself into a disconnected sense of safety within the walls of his literal ivory tower that will prove fatal.
In a desperate effort to appease the enraged citizens of his country while still retaining his job, Macron has promised to commit to a “public debate” for which he will offer his conclusion in the spring. The four major topics he has agreed to consider are bureaucracy, citizenship, taxes, and business. He shot himself in the foot with this play, though; he’s already said he will not undo a plethora of sweeping measures to the contention of the French people. What good does talking about a problem and possible solutions do if you aren’t even willing to move your position? It’s a waste of everyone’s time.
The issue that really got the “gilets jaunes,” or “yellow vest” protesters, on the street in November was the ridiculous carbon taxes French people must cough up for fuel. Doing anything is simply more expensive in France. Even after months of protests, the French government remains ignorant and refuses to compromise. They made a petty gesture in December to delay the latest rounds of carbon tax hikes that were scheduled for January to summer 2019. That’s it. The rest is business as usual, despite the fact that the movement of mostly middle and working class French protesters continues to grow every weekend. Extraordinarily, the movement consists of people from across the political spectrum working together to effect civic change. Historic and inspiring.
What started as a fuel tax protest has morphed into a referendum against the president of France. Emmanuel Macron was hailed as the hero to save globalism in the time of Trump, but he has failed to deliver, often sucking up to president Trump at public events. The longer this mess drags on, the worse it is for Macron; even from his high tower, surely he can see the fire rising. It burns just beneath him at the castle gate.