Unpopular, the French president will try to resume the course of his quinquennium, after a horrific annus in 2018, sending his wishes to the French Monday night, while at the same time “yellow vests” will meet on the Champs-Elysees to protest against his policy.
Benalla case, resignation of two of its “ministers” stars and unprecedented crisis of “yellow vests”: 2018 was a politically harassing year for President Macron, whose popularity rating has collapsed in recent months.
In this final speech of the year, the head of state will, according to a close, use words marking “authority and gathering”, with the dual challenge of appeasing anger and restarting its program of reforms.
A few hours before his speech, the controversy around Alexandre Benalla, his controversial former colleague, turned Monday at the standoff between the Élysée and the former chargé de mission, which ensures to have been in regular contact with the president. after his dismissal for serious misconduct this summer. He “takes revenge […] by maintaining a whole bundle of untruths and approximations,” replied the presidential palace.
More than 23 million people had watched Emmanuel Macron on television on December 10, when, pressed by the demands of the popular movement of “yellow vests” – these modest French mobilized since mid-November against the social and fiscal policy of the government – he has announced 10 billion euros of aid for purchasing power.
Monday night, no more ads. The challenge for the president is to convince him that he can show more listening and kindness. Throughout the year, his attacks on the “refractory Gauls”, the poor who cost “a crazy dough” or the unemployed who would have “only to cross the street” to work, shocked the opinion .
He must “demonstrate that it really ends contempt, arrogance, lies, and change its policy,” for its part urged the spokesman of the party Republicans (right), Laurence Sailliet.
The wishes of the Nation, a French Republican tradition maintained by Mr. Macron, give him the opportunity to talk about the reforms announced for 2019, in particular that of pensions and the civil service, but also new initiatives, starting with this ” big national debate “scheduled from January to March with which the executive hopes to appease the anger of” yellow vests “.
The president could recall the limits of this exercise, as he had already done on December 10: no question of replaying the presidential election, nor to “unravel” what the government and the French Parliament have put in place for 18 months.
These red lines are not without risk. In the absence of concrete results, the “big debate” could lead to new frustrations and disputes. As for the opportunity to launch “citizens’ initiative referendums”, claimed by some of the “yellow vests” and by the opposition, the president has not yet decided.
Emmanuel Macron will in any case delay the constitutional reform to which he remains very attached, until the end of the great debate.
The beginning of 2019 has other pitfalls, such as the implementation of one of the measures taken to appease the anger of the “yellow vests”, the increase of 100 euros per month for low wages.
Rally “festive and non-violent”
The ally of Emmanuel Macron, François Bayrou, president of the MoDem (centrist), pleaded Monday for the restoration of “the unity of the country” with “questions, doubts and confusion”.
Part of the “yellow vests” intends to be heard just at the time of the presidential vows: a call is launched on Facebook for a gathering “festive and non-violent” on the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysees at 19:00 GMT, for the passage to the new year “which will be rich in changes and victories”. In all, some 10,000 people announce they want to answer two different calls.
Security will be strengthened in Paris as in other large provincial cities where calls have been launched.
A protection perimeter was introduced as early as Monday afternoon around the Champs-Élysées and Place de l’Étoile, in a context also marked by the risk of attacks in the country.