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Thursday, 1 September 2016

Has Emmanuel Macron really “betrayed” François Hollande?

How does the (perhaps somewhat sexist) saying go? “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? ( an interpretation  based on a quotation from English Restoration period poet and playwright William Congreve’s “The Mourning Bride”).

Well, how about when it’s applied to a president, seemingly “betrayed” by one of his closest advisers and former (if the word is not too strong) “acolyte”.

Yes, you’ve guessed it - if not at least from the title.

The man (or men) in question is the French president, François Hollande, and his, now, former minister of Economy, Emmanuel Macron.

“Shocked” and “betrayed” is apparently how Hollande feels.

“If anyone believes they can go it alone and implement policies by themselves, they’re wrong,” he said on Wednesday to several hundred leaders of associations - an allusion to Macron’s resignation, without mentioning him by name, as well as his lacking a party machinery to back him.

And those words (at least the “betrayal” part, because let’s face it, Macron’s decision hardly took anyone by surprise) have been echoed by others in the Socialist party as the both the president and his government ministers try “ostrich-in-sand” style to ignore the reality and get on with surviving their final months before next year’s elections.

But was it really a "betrayal" or sign of disloyalty?

Sure, Macron had been an adviser to Hollande at the Elysée palace before landing (being given) his ministerial portfolio in August 2014 (replacing Arnaud Montebourg), but he has hardly made a secret of his ambitions.

In April this year he launched his own movement En Marche “which was neither of the right nor the left. Open to anyone from any political party” -  widely interpreted as a testing ground for a potential presidential bid in 2017.

And although a member of a (supposedly) leftwing government, Macron has always maintained he would be prepared to work with those from the right who share his values.

Indeed just weeks before his resignation, Macron admitted that he “wasn’t a Socialist”, totally in keeping with his repeated attacks on subjects dear to the party’s faithful such as the 35-hour working week.

No, 38-year-old Macron has never held elected office and doesn’t have a party machinery behind him. And that might hurt him - or at least make it difficult - should he decide to take a shot at next year’s presidential election

And yes, Hollande gave him his break and has “tolerated” his outspokenness and inability to play the collective solidarity game that is so “treasured” (if only in name) among French politicians.

But that’s the point.

French (any) politics is also about individuals full of ambition, not only for serving their country (which is what they want the electorate to believe and in true Méthode Coué come to believe themselves by repeating it endlessly) but also for their own self glory.

And it’s not “betrayal” if you realise that the man you once advised is no longer listening (or perhaps never was) and is refusing to see merit in your arguments.

You might not like what Macron stands for (pro-business, too removed from traditional leftwing politics, anti public sector and too reformist) but you have to respect that his decision to resign is one based on total and utter common sense and is a move that could (unlikely but nonetheless possibly) shake up France’s jaded political landscape.

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