April 27, 2017
Courageous or reckless?
Emmanuel Macron went to a Whirlpool plant in Amiens that is threatened to be closed. He confronted workers in talks lasted one hour. And he dared to say what François Hollande did not at Florange in 2012, that the state cannot promise anything and that he will not forbid the closure of the plant. But he did talk with them about finding solutions.
Whilst he was with the workers' union at a chamber of commerce building away from the plant, Marine Le Pen made a surprise visit to the protesters on the site and took selfies with them, saying that with her the plant will not close. After 10 minutes she was gone. This is clear flash populism. It is also clear that workers at Whirlpool are unlikely to vote for Macron. The images from Amiens are all over twitter and other social media. They make it look like Le Pen scored one more point.
But what Macron showed is that he has the guts to get back into the ring, enter Le Pen territory and propose to solve the problems his way. He has to convince all those voters that think of abstaining or voting blank to come out for him instead. Nicolas Sarkozy said he will, as did some of Melenchon’s supporters. But on social media the tenor suggested momentum away from him.
In theory voting for Macron in the second round after he won in the first should be strait forward. But it is not. Many, especially in the big cities, gave Macron their useful vote already in the first round, to lend maximum strength to a candidate who the polls suggest could beat Marine Le Pen. Now, after his uninspiring speech on Sunday and his misplaced victory celebration after the elections, they wonder whether this telegenic political upstart is lacking in substance and understanding of the gravity of the country's situation. Some feel betrayed of their heartfelt choice in the first round, and resent that Macron was pushed up by the media. Some Mélenchon supporters think that the Le Pen voters should be listened to. Catholic voters who backed François Fillon have a problem with Macron's liberal family values. There is a lot of criticism about his lack of rhetorical prowess, and his seeking to please everybody. The voters' discontent can not only be expressed by voting for Le Pen. Blank votes and abstention could also melt the advantage the polls give Macron in the second round. The fact that he came first last Sunday was hailed as a major victory. But if one adds up the first-round tallies of all the candidates who either wished to quit the EU or had serious qualms about its "neoliberal" slant, the result is a country split in half, so France 24.
Where are Macron’s negotiations with the right? While big names like Sarkozy, Christian Estrosi and Jean-Pierre Raffarin already said they will vote Macron, none of the parliamentarians did. For them the choice is a difficult one. Macron’s movement En Marche! sets the condition that MPs who rally for Macron will also have to give up their standing with theit current party and campaign under En Marche! for the legislative elections in June. For many MPs this is not only a political choice but a financial headache. Many members have already started their campaign, in many cases since January. Financed by the Republicans or the centre-right UDI, they received logistical assistance or even a loan from their party. Changing stables in the midst of the campaign is tricky. Negotiations will continue today, according to Journal du Dimanche.