Macron’s many faces

Is French President Emmanuel Macron a socialist? Is he centrist? Or is he conservative? A Magyar Idők column ponders the answer.

editor: REMIX NEWS

Macron probably first showed his true face at a World War II commemoration where a teenager addressed him by his nickname “Manu” (short for Emmanuel), Magyar Idők columnist Zoltán Kottász writes.

“You’re here, at an official ceremony and you should behave,” he told the boy. “You can play the fool but today it’s the Marseillaise (the national anthem), the Chant des Partisans (French Resistance song), so you call me ‘Mister President’ or ‘Sir.’ Ok? There you go.”

His reaction sooner resembled a conservative and traditionalist politician than the anointed leader of liberalism. But that is what his believers want to see in him: the last hope of liberals who, together with Angela Merkel, will defeat the “populists”.

But the French politician who previously served as minister in the government of Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls is neither a socialist, nor liberal, nor centrist but a conservative to the core. As Daily Telegraph wrote recently: “There’s already a Macron-style centrist party in Britain. It’s called the Conservatives.”

But what are the main conservative traits in Europe? Tight fiscal policy, neo-liberal economic policy, compulsory military or civil service, staunch defense of national interests, anti-terrorist measures and last, but not least, protection of borders.

Macron has done all of the above since he became president, which is fine. He is entitled to take measures he deems in his country’s best interest. What is not right is the fact that he is not what he seems to be. He portrays himself as the saviour and reformer of Europe. He threatens to withdraw EU funding from those who do not show solidarity, while he has also denied entry to the refugee ship Aquarius demonstrating that is also reluctant to welcome illegal migrants.

And then he goes on to propose a solution to halt illegal immigration – refugee centres in Africa – which Viktor Orbán, branded by him as populist, suggested long ago. There is a marked difference between Macron’s rhetoric and actions. He seemingly distances himself from the nationalists but then goes on to terminate a refugee camp in Paris. If Hungary were to do such a thing, the press would be all over us.

He has a more assertive foreign policy than his predecessor, Hollande, negotiating in the interest of French companies with Iran, Russia and China. But when Hungary does the same, it is of course dealing with dictatorships.

Last August the French press reported that in a few short months the new president had spent 26 thousand euros on makeup. Perhaps to hide his true face.


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