“People will ask if my manifesto is a programme of the left or the right,” Macron has said. “I want it to be a programme that brings France into the 21st Century.”
Boy, could we do with some of that moderation in the UK.
I personally feel more and more attracted to policies from both, the right and from the left. Balancing the budget, yet keeping essential infrastructure and services, encouraging entrepreneurs but looking out for the weak to name a few. I dislike extreme austerity as much as the re-nationalisation of rail and mail (at least right now with Brexit looming ahead)
For Macron, politics in France is no longer a battle between right and left ideology, but one between protectionism and globalisation. His staunchest adversary is not the Socialist Party he deserted, nor the Republican Party of Francois Fillon, but the closed-border, anti-liberal policies of Marine Le Pen.
If only we in the UK could re-group ourselves and battle protectionism above left and right.
Macron’s manifesto seems to offer policies for everyone – help for farmers, for industry, for employers, for workers, for entrepreneurs. Tax cuts alongside support for those on low incomes. Spending cuts nestling next to €50bn of public investment.
– €50bn (£43bn) public investment plan for job-training, shift to renewable energy, infrastructure and modernisation
– Big cut in corporation tax and leeway for companies to renegotiate 35-hour week
– Cut in jobless rate to 7% (now 9.7%)
His economic programme, said Martine Aubry a senior member of the Socialist party, “takes up the liberal agenda of the Anglo-Saxons in the 1980s. It’s about reducing public services, reducing deficits, and for workers to work more and be paid less.”
There are plenty of centre-left Socialists who agree with the need for economic reform, and Macron has described himself as “a man of the left”, but mentor Alain Minc says there is something different about what he’s offering.
“He’s a leftist liberal, and that is new in French politics,” he says. “There has been a social democrat wing in the Socialist Party but he believes much more in the strengths of the market.”
“He’s a Blairist,” he concludes. “He’s Tony Blair’s son.”
Some would argue that he went further than the former British prime minister, in the later stages of his campaign, in an attempt to win over right-wing voters. But cross-party appeal has never been easy.
Left-wing stalwarts, including many of the unions, fiercely oppose making it easier for companies to hire and fire staff, set salaries, or extend working hours.
In order to try and pass his economic reforms, during his time as minister, Emmanuel Macron turned to right-wing MPs for help.
“It was a nightmare for him,” says his friend Mathieu Laine. “A lot of these [right wing] MPs said, ‘Oh, the Loi Macron is a very good bill, but as it comes from the left, we won’t vote for it’. It was the beginning of the idea, among our very small group, that we should break this way of doing politics.”
For now let’s hope Macron will do well and unite a split nation, as much as Merkel managed with her coalition of the centre.