April 25, 2017
Germans conflicted about Macron
There is no such thing as a German view about Emmanuel Macron. Some Germans see him as a catalyst towards the next stage of European integration - which would necessitate change in France as well as in Germany. Others see him as a failed reformer, and thus lacking in credibility. The main commentaries in Frankfurter Allgemeine's politics and economics sections reflected those two views.
Michaela Wiegel recalls an essay by the French philosopher Joseph Rovan at the end of the second world war, entitled “the Germany we deserve”. His point was that France would have to play an important role in turning Germany into a democratic European country. Wiegel argues that the converse is now true. Germany needs to support France, and in Macron it has the best possible partner, one who unlike François Hollande will not start the relationship with Berlin on the basis of confrontation. She concludes that Berlin should embrace Macron's European agenda, and his legitimate concerns about economic imbalances in the eurozone.
The paper’s orthodox economics editor Holger Stelzner, by contrast, calls Macron a failed reformer. As a former economics minister he shares the blame for the country’s desolate economy, he writes. Stelzner calls Macron’s proposal for a reduction in the state share from 53% to 50% homeopathic. Sticking to the 35-hour week will not boost the French economy, nor will his commitment to keep the pension age at 62 years. And he wonders how a €50bn investment programme can be desirable in a country with a 100% debt-to-GDP ratio.