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Congratulations, President Macron – Now We Oppose You

ATHENS – Prior to the second round of the French Presidential election, DiEM25 (the pan-European movement of democrats, mostly of the left, that I helped to found) promised Emmanuel Macron that we would “mobilize fully to help” him defeat Marine Le Pen. This we did – incurring the wrath of many on the left – because maintaining “an equal distance between Macron and Le Pen,” we believed, was “inexcusable.”

But there was a second part to our promise to Macron: if he “becomes merely another functionary of Europe’s deep establishment,” pursuing dead-end, already-failed neoliberalism, we “will oppose him no less energetically than we are – or should be – opposing Le Pen now.”

Relieved that Macron won, and proud of our clear support for him, we must now fulfill the second part of the promise. No “honeymoon” period: we must oppose Macron immediately. Here’s why.

Macron’s electoral program made clear his intent to continue with the labor-market policies that he began to introduce as former President François Hollande’s economy minister. Having spoken to him about these policies, I have no doubt that he believes in them strongly. He follows a long tradition of blaming the legal constraints on firing workers for the fall in permanent employment and the emergence of a new division between protected and precarious employees – between insiders, with well-paid, quasi-tenured positions, and outsiders, who work as service providers without benefits and often under zero-hour contracts. Trade unions and the left, according to this view, are actually a conservative force, because they defend insiders’ interests while ignoring the plight of the burgeoning army of outsiders.