The European leader who shows up bumbling Boris Johnson
PUBLISHED: 15:19 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:55 18 June 2020
French president Emmanuel Macron has shown leadership on coronavirus, the economic recovery and issues at the centre of the Black Lives Matter protests. It is a stark contrast to Boris Johnson’s approach.
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In his latest short but poignant speech, French president Emmanuel Macron has successfully managed to show clear leadership in his latest speech - addressing Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, coming to terms with the past, acknowledging mistakes as well as moving forward post-COVID and rebuilding France and its economy at the heart of Europe.
Articulate to the fullest, dressed almost immaculately, the way Macron presented himself could not more oppose the bumbling and stammering UK prime minister who is now falling out favour with his people after the saga over his most senior aide. The contrast of the French approach with the entitled, elitist, self-absorbed Tory government we have here in the UK could in fact not be starker.
When was the last time you could say Johnson was clear, decisive, and inspiring?
While Macron may provide some hope to the British and around Europe, it is clear that he is not everyone’s French fancy. He has had a bumpy ride with opinion polls in his own country, in part due his reformist agenda, honesty about tax rises, and failure to criticise the police after a series of damning reports.
But it is his intrinsic European identity that seduces onlookers. For many pro-Europeans in the UK, at such politically troubled times, most of us are desperately missing hearing from a European-hearted and enlightened leader. Johnson leaves a lot to be desired.
Indeed, Macron’s plan of reconstruction is, more than ever placed at the heart of Europe. He could not have said it more clearly; he wants to go on a “European adventure” by creating a powerful economical axis starting at the centre of Europe with the leading “power couple” that is France and Germany. Therefore, he wishes to build a strong bloc with Germany in order to face China and the USA as well as giving a new pulse to European cooperation after the pandemic, but does not mention the UK at all.
Nonetheless, the French president articulates the need for France to remain independent and for the president to be the guarantor of this independence, in a reference to the wartime leader of Free France and former French president, Charles de Gaulle.
It is obvious that the key word of this address is “solidarity” as Macron, unlike his British counterpart, has always believed in the European ideal as a coalition of states, more than it as the utopic idea of one hegemonic leader and its followers. Summarising it as succinct as: “Better is a ‘we’ than an addition of ‘I’”.
It is also very difficult to ignore president Macron’s choice for a very powerful yet very illustrative wordage of the post-WW2 reconstruction and which he already has been known for using in the past. Macron strikingly imposes himself as the leader of a country that has been “at war” and which it is now time to reconstruct, building up a new, more viable economy. For that matter, Emmanuel Macron has set up efficient guidelines and agenda for the weeks but also years, decades to come as his plans are definitely beyond the line of his four-year electoral mandate, always placing France as a leader at the centre of the Schengen area.
This is both a war leader and a campaigner that we saw at the weekend, holding a strategic plan that will carry France through what is hopefully the end of the crisis and beyond, ultimately defining the line of a strong leadership for the country but also for Europe. In fact, his position his crystal clear, he wants to rebuild a solid France based on a new economy powerful and sovereign but above all, he wishes to develop green and sustainable policies and prosperous economies without increasing any taxes. He places his bet on the next generations, the “French youth” as he called it, who he believes are those who will “inherit” it.
Authentic, humble and sincere, he has again recognised his own limits has a human but also as a leader, affirming that mistakes have been made and that this crisis have alas enlightened some weaknesses in the French systems and industries by forcing it to rely on overseas industries such as China.
More symbolic yet particularly pertinent at this time, Emmanuel Macron refers to France’s tumultuous colonial past which he says: “we should not tear down statues, ignore or erase history but should learn from it” making a specific reference to the African continent and its shared history with France, something that has often been avoided by previous French presidents as it was often judged as too sensitive.
But, with the BLM issues rising everywhere in the world, Macron had to make a huge step forward by recognising that France has always been a dreadful theatre of racism and discrimination. Admitting that the country often struggled to uphold the republican “equality of chance” principle, which in theory tends to ensure that everybody, whatever their skin colour, gender, religion, origin or social background could have the same chances to find their places in society, as equals.
This is something that France has always hardly ever been able to put in practice, as it was often slowed down by the prominence of institutionalised and normalised racism which is unfortunately still pervasive in the French society, but which the French president has promised to combat.
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