Saturday, May 21

Eugénie Bastié’s editorial: “Will Emmanuel Macron play the European card?”

In her editorial for this Wednesday, January 19, Eugénie Bastié, journalist at Le Figaro, evokes the theme of Europe in the presidential campaign. A subject dear to Emmanuel Macron who is giving a speech today in the European Parliament.

Still not officially a candidate for re-election, Emmanuel Macron will deliver a new orientation speech on Europe today to mark the start of the French presidency of the Council of the EU.

Can this serve him in the campaign? Everyone remembers Nicolas Sarkozy’s European presidency in 2008 when he struggled over the financial crisis and the war in Georgia, which had earned him a resurgence of positive opinion. In the middle of the presidential campaign, Emmanuel Macron has as much interest in playing this European card as that of the Covid which cannibalizes the campaign and paralyzes his opponents.

Europe at the heart of Macronism

Firstly because the European DNA is at the heart of macronism: it is the only ideological content that unites its voters from the left and those from the right, from the ecologist Pascal Canfin to the ex-UMP Edouard Philippe . A leaflet was also distributed to the teams in March with the slogan “Changing Europe to make France move forward”, with in the background the European flag floating on the Arc de Triomphe which, as we remember, had caused controversy at the start of the year.

In the viewfinder of Emmanuel Macron, there is the center-right electorate that he hopes to rally by highlighting the ambiguity of Valérie Pécresse on this subject. She had reacted strongly to the controversy over the European flag, seeing it as an erasure of French identity. As on the vaccine pass, Emmanuel Macron wants to put the right-wing candidate in overhang.

Europe, a dividing point in the presidential election?

The second round of the 2017 presidential election was a chemically pure divide between Europeanists, gathered around Emmanuel Macron, and Eurosceptics, grouped around Marine Le Pen. Today, this divide is less buoyant.

On the one hand, the French have a slightly better opinion of the European Union than in 2017 (43% think it is a good thing compared to 38% in 2017): they consider that it has played a rather positive in the Covid crisis. On the other, the dreams of “refounding Europe” carried by Emmanuel Macron have gone up in smoke.

In 2022, no presidential candidate will talk about federalism, but none will propose leaving the European Union, let alone the euro. Jean-Luc Mélenchon himself no longer defends the exit from the treaties as in 2017, but “disobedience on a case-by-case basis”.

Emmanuel Macron hopes that with his clear, resolutely pro-European line, he will highlight the vagueness of the right and the left on this subject. However, the split on the right in the presidential campaign, namely the question of immigration, can give this European question a new interest. Challenging the supranational legal norms that restrict the ability of states to control their migratory flows will certainly be at the heart of the debate.

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