October 31, 2018
Macron's break raises some worrying questions
Just as Angela Merkel announced her exit from politics, the French president takes a five-day break. The official story is that the president needs some rest before a demanding travel schedule to celebrate the 100th anniversary of World War I. But what if rumours are right and Macron is exhausted or, even worse, suffering from burnout? He is the type one could see this happening to. If this is a case of exhaustion, a refreshed Macron might be back after a week. If it is a burnout, five days won't make a difference.
Signs that all is not well are the increasingly frequent incidents of uncontrolled outbursts, like the most recent one in Slovakia where he referred to the leaders of Hungary and Poland as crazy minds who lie to their people with anti-European slogans. He said it was structural funds from Brussels that financed their parties and helped their careers. Others are concerned by his tendency towards indecision.
We won't know what is going on for a while. But what has been happening this week is not good for Europe. With only seven months to go before the European elections, the EPP faces a future with Viktor Orban and without Merkel. The political momentum of Macron's new alliance European alliance has been fading. It will need substance beyond bashing against populists. If both leaders of France and Germany are weak, the question is who will dominate the political centre in Europe. Are we up for another surprise?