A year 2017 rich in surprises
2017 was definitely a year like no other. An almost unknown centrist called Emmanuel Macron, with no traditional party and no previous electoral experience, became the 7th President of the 5th French Republic. Then, his movement won the legislative elections while 95% of its candidates did not have previous political experiences at national level. This young and lucky President has now a huge majority in the National Assembly, and its government brings together politicians coming from the left and from the right, and is half composed of personalities from civil society.
Nevertheless, its first months in office were a bit difficult at domestic level. The reform of the Labor Code during the summer allowed the far-left opposition (led by La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and some unions like the CGT) to organize several demonstrations across the country, with a very relative success. In the polls, Emmanuel Macron’s popularity has also drastically declined, a majority of French people having voted for him only to block the National Front.
But since November 2017 and for the first time in French history, Macron and its government are regaining the French confidence as fast as they went down in public opinion. The budgetary choices made by the Government, such as the transformation of the wealth tax, the labor cost decrease or the end of some privileges for parliamentarians, are clear and respect Emmanuel Macron’s campaign commitments. Thus, according to some MPs of the majority, 30% of Macron’s program commitments have already been realized or are in progress. For the French and even for its opponents, Emmanuel Macron, unlike his predecessors, seems to be keeping his promises. Its Government also benefits from an extremely favorable economic context: growth rates are regularly revised upwards, and more interesting, the French are more and more optimistic about their future!
“En Marche” towards new reforms
In a country considered as impossible to reform, Emmanuel Macron still succeeded in passing some measures (reform of the Labor Code, transformation of the wealth tax…) within the first 100 days of his presidency. Although some parliamentarians complain about the infernal rhythm of reforms to be passed in Parliament, the government does not seem to want to slow down the pace. In the next few months, seven important bills will be examined. If the majority of them will pass without difficulties (like the bills on the conclusions of the Estates General of food, on housing, on transport and mobility, on the reform of the Constitution or and on the simplification of standards for companies), some others promise explosive debates. Thus, the bill on immigration or the reform of unemployment insurance, apprenticeship and vocational training belong to this last category.
On health, no major law is expected in the immediate future. Nevertheless, the concrete implementation of the National Health Strategy 2018-2022, which has to serve as the main guideline on health policies for the five-year mandate of Emmanuel Macron and officially published by decree in December 2017, will create many various opportunities all across the country. In general, the importance of prevention in all public policies is underlined by the Minister of Solidarities and Health Agnès Buzyn, in order to bring the French health model “into the 21st century” while making the necessary savings.
The reshaping of French political life
Since the beginning of its mandate, Emmanuel Macron takes advantage of the absence of structured and audible opposition. But things are changing fast. LesRépublicains (conservatives) elected in December Laurent Wauquiez, President of a wide French administrative region (Auvergne – Rhône-Alpes) and former minister of Nicolas Sarkozy, as their President until the next presidential election of 2022. His political line, some consider to be close to that of the National Front (Eurosceptic and anti-immigration), allows him to oppose frontally the policy led by the President of the Republic. On the left side, the Socialist Party will hold its Congress in April. The amount of work for the reconstruction of the party seems huge for this political formation shattered by the last elections (it lost almost 90% of its MPs!). Nevertheless, there is a tiny political space for a social-democrat party at the left of the presidential movement which may challenge it. Finally, on the extremes, the far-right and the far-left may still create problems for the majority despite their loss of influence. Emmanuel Macron will be judged on its political results (mostly on unemployment), and its opponents, soon in order of battle, won’t miss the opportunity to show his inconsistencies and mistakes.
Ultimately, we are living in France a confusing, but exciting, period: the restructuring of French political life after its breakup caused by the election of Emmanuel Macron. Many new policy makers, totally unknown one year before, are emerging in all political parties, in all constituencies, in all ministerial cabinets. Thus, the good knowledge of this totally new political environment provided by RPP is more than ever a decisive added value in the public affairs sector in France.