The pro-EU technocrat promised to unite a divided France as he beat right-wing populist Marine Le Pen, making him the youngest French head of state since Napoleon. The 40-year former investment banker had never held office before becoming President but the European Union was hopeful he could usher in a new dawn with France at the heart of it. But his dreams of an EU army and Eurozone reform are becoming more distant as days go by, thanks to a unique and violent uprising that has recently emerged.
The so-called “yellow jackets” are frustrated with the increasing price of fuel, tax and the cost of living, and they have made their voices heard – literally leaving Paris in flames.
The movement is born out of small working class French towns, whose people are highly suspicious of Mr Macron’s bold initiatives aimed at pleasing the metropolitan elite and bankers of Paris.
But now the French leader’s attempts to win over Germany with economic and environmental reforms have been sidelined, as his approval rating finds itself in the low 20s he simply cannot ignore the domestic anger.
On Tuesday, Mr Macron shelved planned energy tax hikes, which are part of his plans to make France greener, as he showed his first sign of retreat from the “yellow jackets”.
During a dinner in Washington, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde sent a warning to politicians whose decisions could create “an age of anger”.
She said: “Imagine what the world might look like if we fail to build and adapt.
“We could live in an age of anger.”
But this lesson is best learnt from Mr Trump, the US President, who successfully harnessed the anger of America’s rustbelt communities to propel himself into the White House.
As a leader who proved anger matters, Mr Trump is happy to share this advice with his French counterpart.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump said: “I am glad that my friend Emmanuel Macron and the protesters in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago.
“The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters.”
While Mr Macron’s job is safe until 2022, failing to control domestic anger will leave a catastrophic dent in his attempt to satisfy his cravings for a European legacy.
But the “yellow jacket” uprising has more serious consequences for Brussels, as the EU Parliament gears up for the next European election in May 2019.
A genuine fear of populism reverberates around the corridors of power at the parliament, leaving the institution’s liberal order puzzled on how to prevent eurosceptics from taking control.
Amid the backlash in France, far-right movement Action Francaise are attempting to make a comeback.
In Spain, right-wing Vox won seats for the first time since the death of facist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 – a sign of growing discontent with social prime minister Pedro Sanchez.
EU Parliament officials believe they will also make waves in the European election, and will secure enough seats to disrupt the Brussels project.
These growing fears will only add to the misery of countries starting their breakaway from the European project.
Published at Wed, 05 Dec 2018 16:14:00 +0000