Emmanuel Macron has had quite the year. Having played 2017 on easy mode (after his surprise presidential win, his first economic and social reforms were met with little opposition owing to his huge parliamentary majority), the French president was widely unprepared for what came next. The little prince fell to earth mere days after his show-off celebrations of Frances World Cup victory: his bodyguard Benella beat up demonstrators at a May Day rally while posing as a police office, causing the first scandal of Macrons presidency. Then, as his rating were in free-fall, his ministers launched a festival of resignations. And street protests, which had been contained in the spring, suddenly made a comeback in the gilets jaunes movement, which caught fire across France.
As Macron turns 41 today and for the second time running, here are this years most frustrating, weird and downright outrageous soundbites that just might have angered the French enough for them to cover the Arc de Triomphe with tags calling for his resignation. Happy birthday, Manu*!
On the French
Macron has developed a habit of insulting his compatriots from abroad. Last year, on a presidential visit to Greece, he called the French “slackers” – in Denmark this year, he compared his decidedly backwards fellow Gauls to the Danes, who are apparently “orderly Lutherians”. Whats next?
France would also be better off if the president complained less about the French complaining.
This one was a “joke” he made to a bodyguard who had lent his briefcase so that the president could sign an autograph on it. He laughed it off, but replied: “Bastard.”
Macron said this to the Pope, which must be some kind of record because 1) It makes no sense, 2) Why?? and 3) It managed to hurt both the Bretons and the Italians, for obvious mafia-related reasons.
On young people
You all know the story: a kid called Macron “Manu”, and Manu lost it. Not a great look, nor a good strategy to avoid being called Manu (ever heard of the Streisand effect?)
In the French Antilles, Macron lectured a young man who said he had just been released from prison. This statement isnt very shocking – but its noticeable, because Macron loves to make young people, who he addresses with the informal “tu” pronoun, promise to do better. There has however been no sign of policies that address young peoples concerns. Young people deserve better too.
On the gilets jaunes
Macron has been famously silent on the topic, which largely contributed to the gilets jaunes thinking he did not take them seriously and offered too little, too late. He pretended to make concessions (more on this later), but then said that he wouldnt reintroduce the tax on the very rich:
Macron is what happens when sociological concepts – here Bourdieus symbolic violence – come to life.
Yes, French president Emmanuel Macron said this. He even posted the video on his own Twitter account. French president Emmanuel Macron somehow thought this was a good idea. Im starting to believe that French president Emmanuel Macron is an elaborate meme come to life.
Your guess is as good as mine.
Channelling Theresa May! Always a great plan.
Criticised by a Nobel Prize winner for his “lack of humanity” on migrants, Macron replied that, really, its intellectuals worrying about said migrants we should be suspicious about.
This guy went viral, so I guess hes allowed to stay here, but that doesnt mean Im actually going to fix any of Frances structural problems regarding our racist immigration policies.
This was part of Macrons TV address to the gilets jaunes, which was otherwise focused on economic measures. Its been flagged by non-profit SOS Racisme for “scapegoating immigrants”.
His critics? “They can come and get me”
Incredibly enough, this was Macrons reply following the Benalla scandal: “If theyre looking for the person at fault, its me. They can come and get me.” (They cant. Its called “presidential immunity”.)
Alright, Macron actually said this in 2010, but the book that revealed this gem was published this year. Please enjoy responsibly.
This is an extract from Peter and the Wolf, which Macron narrated to an audience during a “Russian soirée” at the Elysée. “Louis XIV, who loved dancing, often acted in ballets hosted at the palace”, Le Monde noted as comparison.
On the press
Rude. (And quite dangerous for the freedom of the French press.)
The Benalla scandal? “A storm in a tea cup”
When in doubt, gaslight the media.
Gaslighting didnt work? Just shout “fake news”!
This already makes little sense in English. He said it in French, but used English for “bottom-up”, which is management nonsense.
Quizzed by his environment minister on how a hunting lobbyist had managed to invade a meeting on hunting regulations, Macron, who clearly knew how the person got in, pretended he had no idea. Not very bottom-up. (The minister proceeded to resign.)
We really, really dont. Its called “secularity”, its enshrined in the Constitution and the secular laws of 1905, and is considered a fundamental principle of French democracy.
On the job market
Macron thus replied to a young gardener who was describing his struggle to find work in his profession. He also advised him to look for work as a waiter instead.
On following the rules
That was the French presidents advice to privileged American students at George Washington University. Dont try it at home, though – French activists, students, rail workers, gilets jaunes and other protesters will tell you that all youll get is teargas and, if youre unlucky, a life-altering injury.
On the Republic
That was during the Benalla scandal.
On French history
Years in French history during which revolts were sparked by taxes/economic inequality: 1624, 1630, 1634-37, 1640, 1643, 1645, 1659, 1656-62, 1653-65, 1666, 1674, 1675, 1707, 1749, 1789…
Please, Manu… I beg you… Just…dont…
— CNEWS (@CNEWS) July 25, 2018
In this video, Macron can be seen visibly tipsy, in the middle of the Benalla scandal, on the same day hes dared his critics to “come and get him”. “Im with the people, were happy, everything is alright!” he says, looking very relaxed.
Lets hope this will come true in 2019.
Pauline Bock writes about France, the Macron presidency, Brexit and EU citizens in the UK. She also happens to be French.