Macron - The Sun President?

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The recent election of Macron to the presidency of France was remarkable in several ways: his youth, his dismissal of the major parties, his creation, ex nihilo, of a new political movement.

France looked to a new future with a young and energetic hand on the rudder.

Thus far, he has done well, projecting himself in the forefront of global politics with high-level visits from Putin and Trump in the first months of his term. By all accounts he was firm and constructive in his talks with both leaders. All well and good.

But is it?

Some of the symbolism of the details of the visits intrigue me.

In the case of Putin talks were held in Versailles rather than in the Elysées. It has been suggested that this was an attempt at a show of strength. Versailles, of course, was the palace of Louis XIV - the Sun King. Louis ascended to the throne at the age of four and over his lengthy reign of seventy-two years wielded absolute power exmplified in his declaration “L’État, c’est moi” (“I am the State”).

There was a palpable feeling that the use of Versailles was a display of muscle towards a political hardman.

Then came Trump, to be whisked off to le Tombeau de Napoléon and Invalides - the latter another Louis XIV construction, this time catering for the military wounded.

The visit to the tomb of Napoleon is intriguing. The place is almost the military equivalent of the Panthéon, with a handful of France's greatest military leaders interred there alongside Napoleon himself. The place glorifies Napoleon of course, with garish depictions of the leader in various heroic guises including one depiction of his as a Roman emperor.

The psychology of such a visit intrigues me. Was Macron in an unsubtle fashion flexing his muscles again, this time with a display of alignment with another young leader who, like it or not, became preeminent in his day? Or was he having a more subtle dig at Trump, showing him the somewhat kitsch and ridiculous depths to which hero-worship can be taken?

Of course, both trips might have been designed to showcase Paris and its attraction as a tourist destination. The Trump visit managed to get in Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower after all.

However, one thing which emerged this week was that in a row over military funding Macron gave the head of the military a public dressing-down - the sort which should have been done in private, if at all.

The signs are small, but cumulative, that he has the potential and the mindset to become (let me put this delicately) a somewhat assertive president.

That might be a good thing in terms of France's international relations, but domestically?

Another thing may be of significance, and that is the subject of Macron's thesis when he was a student:

Machiavelli.

ETA: gracethepirate had reminded me in this thread that he once expressed the wish that his presidency be jupitérien. The jury is still out on what that actually means. To omit that from my post is to leave out something important regarding his view of the role of president. My thanks go to gracethepirate for pointing this out and for not pointing it out as an omission; it certainly contributes to building a better picture of Macron and is a necessary piece in the puzzle.
 
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ruserious

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He seems very charismatic. Kind of a guy you'd want as a leader rather than the types we usually end up with. I was very sceptical at the start, thinking he was the classic insider in outsider clothing. But it awaits to be seen if it is all hot air.
 

Filibuster

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I wouldn't get carried away. He will be up to his neck in protests as soon as he tries to reform the labour laws and the honeymoon ends.

The French don't really do cult of personality anymore. They're just fed up with pessimism and depressing politics and he was selling a more optimistic brand. It's really as simple as that. Also it's not unusual in France to form new parties. There's always a degree of choosing and changing going on. The UMP / Les républicains only dates from 2002. Chirac came in from Rally for the Republic etc etc. It's a bit more extreme with Macron but it's in line with precedent in many ways.

Bringing Trump to Versailles was clever. Very clever. The Donald understands symbols of power, notably big buildings. He builds towers. He does real estate. He's a bit like a monarch from hundreds of years ago. He doesn't really understand diplomacy or discussion. However a big fancy building decked out in gold... That's something he can respect.

Macron and his team clearly understood this and used psychology.

Trump's gone home having been impressed by an architectural and level of pomp that Paris is absolutely designed for.

France now has a relationship with the US presidency that's very different from the UK where May, having barely survived an election is basically begging for crumbs in the form of a trade deal.

The French and by connection, the EU have just built a relationship based on something very different. This is very much about soft power and influence by making friends and impressing.

I think Trump respects confidence and even arrogance.
 

petaljam

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The whole Napoleonic thing is a little worrying isn't it?
It's hard to tell how seriously Macron takes it all himself though.

I think he has a strong tendency to treat all these events as theatre, which has some positive aspects, using symbolism to achieve his goals - politics is a performance art to some degree, anyway.

Still, as you say there have been a couple of incidents where he also seems to have a very authoritarian streak, as someone to be obeyed without question (I mentioned the threatened prosecutions of leakers of the proposed work legislation reforms on another thread only yesterday) which may indicate that he actually sees himself as an incarnation of these people.

I still tend to suspect that he's more of a smoke and mirrors president, myself, but if that is associated with a belief that his own persona is much more than that, it will be really interesting to see how the rest of the body politic reacts to that. And the street - and the two may not have the same reaction at all. I've heard some rather positive reactions to the dressing down of the head of the armies. I don't know how common that is, but I suspect that people like seeing bigwigs being put in their place. And after all a military man is supposed to obey isn't he?

And if his diplomatic skills are up to his mastery of spectacle and theater (and he's been ok in that so far) perhaps he'll be one of those presidents who is far more popular outside their country than inside - Gorbatchev or Obama, albeit for different reasons.
 

Catalpast

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The recent election of Macron to the presidency of France was remarkable in several ways: his youth, his dismissal of the major parties, his creation, ex nihilo, of a new political movement.

France looked to a new future with a young and energetic hand on the rudder.

Thus far, he has done well, projecting himself in the forefront of global politics with high-level visits from Putin and Trump in the first months of his term. By all accounts he was firm and constructive in his talks with both leaders. All well and good.

But is it?

Some of the symbolism of the details of the visits intrigue me.

In the case of Putin talks were held in Versailles rather than in the Elysées. It has been suggested that this was an attempt at a show of strength. Versailles, of course, was the palace of Louis XIV - the Sun King. Louis ascended to the throne at the age of four and over his lengthy reign of seventy-two years wielded absolute power exmplified in his declaration “L’État, c’est moi” (“I am the State”).

There was a palpable feeling that the use of Versailles was a display of muscle towards a political hardman.

Then came Trump, to be whisked off to le Tombeau de Napoléon and Invalides - the latter another Louis XIV construction, this time catering for the military wounded.

The visit to the tomb of Napoleon is intriguing. The place is almost the military equivalent of the Panthéon, with a handful of France's greatest military leaders interred there alongside Napoleon himself. The place glorifies Napoleon of course, with garish depictions of the leader in various heroic guises including one depiction of his as a Roman emperor.

The psychology of such a visit intrigues me. Was Macron in an unsubtle fashion flexing his muscles again, this time with a display of alignment with another young leader who, like it or not, became preeminent in his day? Or was he having a more subtle dig at Trump, showing him the somewhat kitsch and ridiculous depths to which hero-worship can be taken?

Of course, both trips might have been designed to showcase Paris and its attraction as a tourist destination. The Trump visit managed to get in Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower after all.

However, one thing which emerged this week was that in a row over military funding Macron gave the head of the military a public dressing-down - the sort which should have been done in private, if at all.

The signs are small, but cumulative, that he has the potential and the mindset to become (let me put this delicately) a somewhat assertive president.

That might be a good thing in terms of France's international relations, but domestically?

Another thing may be of significance, and that is the subject of Macron's thesis when he was a student:

Machiavelli.
What we here in Ireland want to know is when will Le Garçon Soleil invite Leo V to his capital city

- and when there what parts of Gay Paris our Leo might find of interest.... :cool:
 

Prester Jim

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He does seem to be a deep planner and manipulator, interesting that someone with his personality and youthful drive is in charge of a powerful nation, he seems to be more interested in power than ideals.
Who is he really? who knows?
Could end up clashing with a very conservative and pragmatic Merkel.
Interesting times for France and the EU.
 

Prester Jim

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He seems very charismatic. Kind of a guy you'd want as a leader rather than the types we usually end up with. I was very sceptical at the start, thinking he was the classic insider in outsider clothing. But it awaits to be seen if it is all hot air.

That depends on his intentions, we may wish he was more of a plodder soon enough.
 

petaljam

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What we here in Ireland want to know is when will Le Garçon Soleil invite Leo V to his capital city

- and when there what parts of Gay Paris our Leo might find of interest.... :cool:
You may well do, Catalpast, but I think you may be projecting a bit there assuming that everyone else thinks the same. :lol:
 

between the bridges

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Moi'd be more worried about the daft punk thing...
 

Deadlock

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Des' description has been noted by others - with the New York Times calling him 'Bonapartesque' and 'Pharaonic' - not least with reference to the concentration of power as his disposal, and his 'nod' to symbolism of the past and 'gloire'.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/world/europe/emmanuel-macron-france-president-power.html

For the moment I can't help but draw comparisons with Hollande - who appeared to be a particularly ineffectual president, and wonder if the contrast flatters Macron's hardline needlessly?
 

ruserious

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That depends on his intentions, we may wish he was more of a plodder soon enough.
It's been said that the French have longed for the return of a strong CDG type President for years. Macron seems to be beefing himself up to fill that but it's a mighty fall if he gets it wrong.
 

Filibuster

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The French paradox : they are anarchists who crave a president who rules like a king.
 
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He seems very charismatic. Kind of a guy you'd want as a leader rather than the types we usually end up with. I was very sceptical at the start, thinking he was the classic insider in outsider clothing. But it awaits to be seen if it is all hot air.
It is very early indeed in his presidency, so making judgment will take time.

Putin's vist and that of Trump were testosterone-fuelled but that might be Macron meeting fire with fire. Perhaps when he visits, Michael D will be taken to some of the more cerebral sites of Paris. I can just see Macron being shown around Shakespeare and Co.
 

jpc

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A well presented spoofer.
Or maybe someone who will change a system that needs changing?
I have a feeling it will be spoofing.
He will make a lot of noise about Ireland's corporate tax.
And maybe even make things bloody difficult.
But do anything concrete in France.
No!
 

Volatire

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Macron is just another in a long list of preening French poodles.

President Trump has him on a leash already.
 

Wascurito

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Sarkozy showed similar Bonapartiste tendencies in his early months. The French public soon sorted him out.

What's the media reaction been in France? I recall that in the early days of Sarkozy's presidency, there was a fawning attitude in some quarters to such an extent that one left-wing journalist dubbed it sarkophancie (from sycophancy). One publication went so far as to photoshop out a wee slab of fat from the presidential derrière in one image.
 
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The French paradox : they are anarchists who crave a president who rules like a king.
It's an interesting perspective. I'm going to grab my Gitanes and my beret. I'll meet you at the Café St Jacques to discuss it with you. Tell the family that you'll be late.
 

petaljam

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Sarkozy showed similar Bonapartiste tendencies in his early months. The French public soon sorted him out.

What's the media reaction been in France? I recall that in the early days of Sarkozy's presidency, there was a fawning attitude in some quarters to such an extent that one left-wing journalist dubbed it sarkophancie (from sycophancy). One publication went so far as to photoshop out a wee slab of fat from the presidential derrière in one image.
That's an interesting point. The world has changed though, and Trump has given outward appearances a far greater importance over strategy. It remains to be seen whether people also weary of Macron's more controlled version of "greatness" than Sarkozy and his bling.

I think if he doesn't manage to make real improvements, it could soon become more of a handicap than a advantage.
 

Filibuster

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I think it'll get interesting at EU level because you're actually seeing a return to a classic French president. Holland was basically dithering and ineffectual and Sarkozy was all about the glamour of the office.

The successful French presidents are most definitely big personalities, somewhat idiosyncratic, cerebral and very confident.

I think Merkel is in for a very different relationship with France and one that's probably good for Europe, as I think the Germans (more so the CDU) have had unchecked influence on EU policy for too long. It's caused some very odd fractures in the EU due to a total lack of pragmatism.

I'm hoping that the French might start pushing towards a more pragmatic and human EU again.
 


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