We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.
close

May 08, 2018

Macron and the technocratic republic

Since the British political TV series Yes Minister we know what it is like for a minister to be in the hands of his cabinet secretary, epitomised by the fictional Sir Humphrey Appleby, and of a technocratic administration. The prime minister was not more powerful either, as we learned in the follow-up series Yes Prime Minister. The series ran in the 1980s but they never lost their relevance in today's world. Nor are they confined to the UK.

We see parallels in France. The editorialist Nathalie Segaunes writes that Emmanuel Macron's power relies on the technocratic administration more than on his political party LREM, or on the civil platforms with which he promised to engage the citizens. It is the practical consequence of an ambitious president who came to power with an untested party, and with mistrust against the political class as it was. When Macron came to power, he reduced the number of political advisers per ministry to ten. Macron's rhythm of reforms and workload, with sometimes 2000 amendments to work through over a single weekend, means that those advisers rely on the administration.

The president's office seems to know the importance of the senior civil servants too: some communication passes directly from the Élysée to them directly rather than through the ministers. The reliance on the higher administration is the result of Macron's rejection of the existing political system, and makes his top-down authoritarian approach quite efficient. But it also means that the reforms are no longer the result of a political choice, but determined by an unelected elite of senior civil servants. A republic run by technocrats means a weak democracy under Macron, argues Thierry Chopin from the Schuman foundation, writing on Telos. Chopin sees several risks for Macron. First, relying on a technocratic apparatus shows once more that France is a society of mistrust. There is also a real risk that Macron's promised transformation of the country and the society won't ever happen. This reliance is also a form of conservatism, which can re-inforce the gap between the people and the oligarchic elites. It gives power to those who passed through Ena, the elite administration school, rather than giving a voice to people who had not been part of the system. If Macron still stands for a disruptive renewal, he needs to address this reliance, otherwise this would be another lesson in how everything has to change so nothing changes. 

Show Comments Write a Comment

May 08, 2018

Philippe's silent offer to the SNCF unions

Édouard Philippe met with the trade unions to discuss the SNCF reform yesterday. The prime minister did not concede anything in substance, but he opened up the discussion about amendments. He offered unions to make proposals that could end up as amendments in the draft that goes to the senate at the end of May. So far this is a vague promise, but it is a gesture of opening.

The trade unions will decide tomorrow how to proceed with their strike action, a two-day-a-week disruptions going on since April 3. The CGT already signalled its determination to continue the strikes since there are no new concessions on the table. The less radical CFDT welcomes dialogue and wants to hand in about 40 amendments, but at the same time it also sees no reason to lessen the pressure at this point, according to l'Opinion.

The two subjects trade unions care most about is the status of the newly recruited, and what happens to the SNCF debt and its company status. According to some sources the objective is for the SNCF to reach break-even by 2022, though 2020 has also been mentioned as a possible date for this. It means that by this date the state will have to take over the debt of the company, even if this is most likely to happen progressively.

Show Comments Write a Comment

May 08, 2018

On the ordoliberal utopia of a debt-free state

We have reported extensively on Olaf Scholz' austerity budget. Mark Schieritz makes the calculation, based on IMF forecasts for German debt until 2023, that Germany will be debt-free in about 15 years. By 2023 the debt-to-GDP ratio is forecast to have declined from the current 60% to 42%.

While Schieritz focuses on why it is not economically efficient for a country to run without any debt, Wolfgang Munchau argues that this has the potential to drive the eurozone apart. The less debt Germany has, the less risk it is inclined to share. Also note that any of the proposals for a securitised safe asset would be blown out of the water. Without German debt, there can be no such asset. And consider what this does to the German public discourse. People are already arguing that they made sacrifices to reduce their debt, so why should we be responsible for the debt of others? This is his conclusion:

"There will never be a solution to the eurozone’s predicament unless other countries speak truth to power. They should deem Germany to be violating the most important policy rule set out in the Maastricht treaty: that member states treat economic policy as a matter of common concern. The German budget is as un-European as Greece’s excessive fiscal deficits were."

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.

 

Recent News

  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • June 20, 2017
  • How to soften Brexit?
  • The deep roots of Brexit: Thatcher and the Germans
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 09, 2018
  • German panic about Target2
  • AfD level with SPD
  • How the EU could fail
  • May 31, 2017
  • Getting real in the debate on the euro's future
  • Russia's growing influence in Italy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • May 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 09, 2019
  • What can go wrong now?
  • April 13, 2018
  • German support for eurozone reform next to zero...
  • ... and no support for France on Syria either
  • A French sermon
  • Why the euro endures
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 29, 2019
  • What comes after plan B fails? Plan C, of course. C for cliff-edge
  • Gilets jaunes, how to structure a movement in free flow?
  • European Court of Auditors criticises Juncker’s investment fund
  • February 26, 2018
  • Angela Merkel's cabinet
  • March 27, 2017
  • Governing formation troubles - Northern Ireland edition
  • Did Trump present Merkel with a bill for Nato?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • November 13, 2018
  • Peak Salvini?
  • Protest uberisation
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • February 28, 2017
  • Is Hamon losing the right wing of his party?
  • Something we just don’t understand
  • Solve the problem
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • May 31, 2019
  • Salvini’s frightening strength
  • The significance of Corbyn’s latest flipflop on the referendum
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • November 09, 2017
  • From street protests to road closures
  • What Russia wants
  • January 31, 2017
  • Project fear against Italexit
  • On how not to frustrate Brexit
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 07, 2019
  • Forget Tusk - the real action is elsewhere
  • On David Malpass and the Trump legacy
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • September 15, 2017
  • Juncker dragged into the Catalan fray
  • What to say in Florence
  • How to fill the gap left by the British MEPs
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 26, 2019
  • How Brexit has given rise to different perceptions of reality
  • The EP, not Madrid, will boost Spanish clout
  • How realistic is a Gaullist Europe?
  • September 17, 2018
  • About the new partnership between Russia and China
  • EU ponders Irish backstop protocol to help May
  • February 07, 2018
  • A short note on bitcoin
  • July 04, 2017
  • On the CDU’s programme
  • Macron defines his presidential style
  • Why do we criticise modern macro?
  • November 28, 2016
  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 01, 2019
  • Meaningful IV
  • Caputová elected: a turning point for central Europe?
  • October 02, 2018
  • Whatever it takes - diesel version
  • Is Macron's European discourse too simplistic?
  • April 06, 2018
  • Schleswig Holstein collapses Spain's strategy against Catalan separatism
  • On the implausibility of conspiracy theories in the Skripal case
  • October 09, 2017
  • UK is starting to prepare for a no-deal Brexit
  • Why Germany will resist meaningful eurozone reform
  • April 12, 2017
  • Macro in a state of denial
  • Where Schulz is vulnerable
  • Schäuble’s three party tricks
  • October 17, 2016
  • Ceta is dead for now
  • L’après-Hollande, c'est Hollande
  • SPD against Russia sanctions
  • Nissan to join customs union and other fanciful tales
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • February 04, 2019
  • Watch out for the resurgence in Tory unity
  • The gilets-jaunes' effect on the European elections
  • What did he possibly mean by that?
  • September 27, 2018
  • Two ways out of the Brexit impasse
  • May 22, 2018
  • A €60bn ESM credit line - is this what they call a backstop?
  • Will Nato survive Trump?
  • Northern Ireland's Brexit disillusion
  • Would Corbyn become prime minister if he accepted the single market?
  • January 15, 2018
  • Is the section on Europe for real?
  • Can Drahos upset Zeman?
  • September 11, 2017
  • Turkey issues travel warning for visitors to Germany
  • How nasty is the AfD?
  • May 08, 2017
  • A message of hope
  • Barnier's not so easily agreed Brexit principles
  • The rebirth of the paranoid conspiracy theory
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 24, 2016
  • Towards a hard Brexit
  • Is there a pact of Ventotene?
  • La rentrée
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 01, 2019
  • The questions we will be asking tomorrow
  • What category of diplomatic accidents is Sea Watch 3?
  • June 03, 2019
  • Reinventing the French right without Wauquiez
  • Tory leadership election is between feasible and unfeasible Brexit options
  • May 07, 2019
  • … while Macron’s European troubles have already begun, and might get even worse
  • Don't discount a Brexit deal
  • Is Tsipras too complacent?
  • Costa - the fiscally responsible Socialist
  • April 12, 2019
  • Where does Wednesday’s uneasy compromise leave the EU?
  • March 18, 2019
  • May's deal still on the table. Don't rule it out.
  • EPP decision on Fidesz still open
  • On the defeat of liberalism
  • February 21, 2019
  • Sound and fury, but Brexit reality unchanged
  • Supertanker Deutschland moves to join internet age
  • January 29, 2019
  • What comes after plan B fails? Plan C, of course. C for cliff-edge
  • Gilets jaunes, how to structure a movement in free flow?
  • European Court of Auditors criticises Juncker’s investment fund
  • January 07, 2019
  • What to look out for in the Brexit debates
  • Macron's last-resort tool for the gilets jaunes
  • December 17, 2018
  • A second referendum is no closer today than last Friday
  • Philippe expects 3.2% deficit next year
  • November 27, 2018
  • Responding to the yellow-vest protest
  • The New Hanseatic tensions are a foretaste of things to come
  • November 09, 2018
  • What to make of Merz’ pro-Europeanism
  • October 22, 2018
  • A week of intense political tension in the UK
  • Poland's local elections reveal deeply-split country
  • October 04, 2018
  • The Brexit Queen’s new dancing clothes
  • Ceci n’est pas une crise politique
  • September 18, 2018
  • Strache joins Orban in challenging the legality of the vote
  • How Brexit can still go wrong
  • September 03, 2018
  • Is the AfD an extremist party? Of course it is. Why do you ask?
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • July 24, 2018
  • A constitutional referendum in Poland?
  • On the future of the euro
  • July 13, 2018
  • Can Spain's PP turn eurosceptic over Catalonia?
  • July 02, 2018
  • Is Trump out to destroy both Nato and the EU?
  • Salvini’s empire
  • Remembrance as a way forward?
  • June 20, 2018
  • Does Macron support Merkel over refugees?
  • Arising doubts whether the meaningful vote rebellion will succeed
  • The message of two shocking polls
  • June 12, 2018
  • The new Italian battle lines
  • A Brexit rebellion squashed, for now
  • Wauquiez - a party leader without followers
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • May 22, 2018
  • A €60bn ESM credit line - is this what they call a backstop?
  • Will Nato survive Trump?
  • Northern Ireland's Brexit disillusion
  • Would Corbyn become prime minister if he accepted the single market?
  • May 17, 2018
  • The EU's pathetically weak response to Donald Trump
  • Might the court case against the Catalan separatists collapse?
  • On the crumbling alliance against Russia
  • May 14, 2018
  • Catalonia: plus ça change...
  • Conveney says no to Brexit with border infrastructure
  • Why the noble Lords don't really matter
  • May 10, 2018
  • Time for some clear thinking on Trump and Iran
  • Will Corbyn accept the EEA? Brexiteers can relax. He won't.
  • What next for the DUP?
  • May 09, 2018
  • A moment of truth in the Brexit talks
  • A leap of faith, Mr Kierkegaard?
  • May 08, 2018
  • Macron and the technocratic republic
  • Philippe's silent offer to the SNCF unions
  • On the ordoliberal utopia of a debt-free state