The Decline of Emmanuel Macron

Sudhir Hazareesingh at the TLS:

A crisis of this magnitude almost invariably reveals wider dysfunctions, and so it has been with Macron’s debacle with the gilets jaunes. The President seemed oblivious to the plight of the provinces, and unable to show any personal empathy with the lives of ordinary citizens. Visiting all corners of the territory and making an emotional connection with the people are key functions of the French republican monarch. De Gaulle managed this with his systematic tournées across small towns and villages: by the end of his first term, he had visited every metropolitan département. The very incarnation of this esprit de proximité was Jacques Chirac, who genuinely delighted in his encounters with the public, especially when they afforded opportunities to sample tasty local victuals. Macron, in contrast, has failed to cultivate these organic (and gastronomical) ties with the citizenry. He has also communicated very patchily, with long periods of Olympian silence combined with clumsy off-the-cuff interventions – as when he grumbled about his compatriots’ “Gaulois tendency to resist change”, or when he told an unemployed man that he could find a job by “just crossing the street”. In his December 10 speech, he expressed his sorrow for having “hurt” the French people by “some of his words”, and for seeming “indifferent” to their everyday concerns. This is one of the areas where his combination of intellectual superiority and political inexperience – he never held elected office before becoming President – have come back to haunt him.

more here.