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Emmanuel Macron and the Quest to Reinvent a Nation

by Sophie Pedder

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4729-4860-1
Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum

An optimistic view of France’s future under Emmanuel Macron.

Journalist Pedder, the Paris bureau chief of the Economist and commentator on French politics for CNN and the BBC, makes her literary debut with an insightful examination of the rise, vision, and potential impact of France’s youngest president. Based on interviews with Macron, his staff, scores of politicians (including Macron’s combative right-wing opponent, Marine Le Pen), as well as ordinary French citizens, the author offers an adroit, revealing overview of contemporary France and its dynamic leader. Macron, as Pedder portrays him, is nothing less than extraordinary, with “an ability to think ahead and see the big picture; a capacity to create and exploit opportunities, and take risks; and a determination, bordering on ruthlessness.” Calm, focused, and hardworking, he “knows what he wants, and what he needs to do to get it.” Early in his career, he had his eye on the presidency: He spent two years as adviser to François Hollande and then served another two years as his economy minister. Although positioned “at the heart of the French establishment,” when he mounted his own campaign, he ran as an outsider, a disrupter, whose new party attracted the liberal center. Pedder ascribes his success to his “transgressive personality, an insolent ambition, a calculating visionary mind—and a big splash of luck.” Scandals enveloping some opponents, as well as Le Pen’s disastrous performance in a TV debate, helped to bolster Macron’s image. The author underscores the difference between Macron and his predecessors, Jacques Chirac (“a professional schemer, old-school charmer and political chameleon”), flamboyant Nicolas Sarkozy, and tepid Hollande. She also offers a cleareyed view of Macron’s many challenges, notably the “fracture running through the country, between prosperous and confident metropolitan centres and the drive-past second-tier towns and deserted rural areas.” With only one year’s administration to examine, the author draws on Macron’s campaign promises to delineate his ambitions for addressing problems in education, unemployment, immigration, globalization, and relationships with the rest of Europe and America.

An authoritative analysis of power and politics in contemporary France.