August 01, 2017
Macron threatens his ministers
Emmanuel Macron passes on the blame. Faced with falling popularity ratings after a stand-off with the military, outrage over the housing tax reform, and cacophony from the LREM group in the assembly, he decided to step in. At the cabinet meeting on July 13 he told his ministers not to be over-reliant on the civil service. Le Figaro has this quote that was doing the rounds in the press (our translation):
"This is a dog's breakfast what emerges from some of your notes. Do not get enveloped in the comfort of the documents written up by your civil servants. It might be comfortable for you to be placed into their hands. But if you continue like this, you will have disappeared in six months."
He called on his government to anticipate and make sense of the decisions taken, so that they can be understood by the citizens. So, how will the French understand his public admonishments? We remember the two times he did the same to his military chief, Pierre de Villiers, who resigned as a consequence. Can this happen again? Is this not an even more concrete threat?
With this leak to the press Macron made sure that the public sees that he is not a technocrat. He also imposed his authority on the government. The same goes for the assembly. Le Monde reports that he met with key allies in the parliament last Friday and called for some vice presidents, who were outmanoeuvred by the opposition, to be fired. He also wants more training and support for new MPs. The government will also change the way it communicates with the public. Some political counsellors are even allowed to brief outside of official press conferences, something unheard of only weeks ago.
More streamlined efficiency is also promised by the president of the assembly, François de Rugy, who wants to limit the discussions about certain reforms to committees rather than in the plenary.
The French government also recorded one clear success this week as the senate approved the labour law reform to pass by order. This is no small thing as there were differences with the assembly that needed to be overcome, writes Le Monde. The arbitration between the LREM dominated assembly and the senate, where Republicans are in the majority, produced a text that is now ready to go back to trade unions and employers before it is written into law in late September. The labour minister expects no surprises here, though there are demonstrations already in the pipeline for September.