The Center Left and Globalization
After promising to reform both France and the European Union, President Emmanuel Macron is now struggling to reclaim the public's confidence and prove that he is not the "President of the Rich." By pursuing a business-friendly reform agenda, Macron has fallen into a trap that center-left reformers everywhere seem incapable of avoiding.
WASHINGTON, DC – Popular uprisings across France are threatening to shatter the hope that so many had placed in French President Emmanuel Macron after his election in May 2017. With his party, La République En Marche !, having secured an absolute parliamentary majority, Macron promised to pursue difficult reforms not just in France, but also within the European Union. But now he is facing the biggest crisis of his presidency.
Revitalization of the EU has long depended on a strong French leader capable of overhauling the country’s economy. Before the proposed fuel tax that brought the Yellow Vests into the streets last month, Macron had managed to overcome opposition to a series of labor-market reforms. Though politically difficult, the reforms were necessary to bring the budget deficit below 3% of GDP, in accordance with EU rules, and modernize France’s generous social-security system in the face of disruptive new technologies.
As I (Derviş) argued in May, the traditional center right and center left are too deeply embedded in European political life to be erased by an upstart political movement like Macron’s. So, for Macron to retain his popularity, he must cooperate with or somehow subsume either the center right or the center left.