Macron had struggled with the slogan “neither left nor right.” But he now seems to be closing in on the latter direction. Two controversial bills and increasingly inflammatory rhetoric from the Interior Ministry are proof of this.
With the presidential election only 17 months away, the 42-year-old risks losing the support of many of the left-wing voters who initially helped him win the office.
Over the last three years, 43 MPs have either resigned or been ousted by Macron’s party, La République en Marche (LREM), set up in 2016. Some of them had been civil society experts who had entered parliament eagerly after reshaping the well. -beared mold of traditional party politics. Some felt alienated by the government’s increasingly conservative line.
“We are not the ones betraying. On the contrary, we believe we are returning to our original values,” Emilie Cariou told French radio after stopping LREM in May to start her own Green parliamentary group.
Political analyst Dominique Moisi believes that Macron, since coming to power, has been trying to satisfy voters on the right rather than his left-wing base.
“There is this development that explains the disorder between some of the members of the LREM who left the party because they felt he was moving too much towards economic liberalism and security conservatism,” Moisi told CNN.
Macron’s conservative overtures on security were evident when his party presented the “global security proposal” to parliament. Article 24 of the Act prohibits the dissemination of images of police officers with the “intention to harm them”.
If enacted, offenders will face up to a year in prison and a $ 54,000 fine.
Many fear the bill would make it easier for journalists to cover up protests and police brutality. After widespread protests, and with journalists and human rights organizations rejecting Article 24, Macron’s government succumbed to pressure, and on Thursday the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Article 24 would be amended to ensure it did not “prejudge the public’s legitimate interest in being informed. . “
During a debate in Parliament on Friday, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin addressed the criticism, saying journalists and members of the public “can continue filming and broadcasting, but you can not provide the names and addresses of our police officers who want to serve the Republic.”
But sharing images “for the purpose of harming or inciting violence would be against the law.
Parliament voted to approve the controversial article on Friday. The entire global security bill faces a vote Tuesday before going to the Senate.
The draft law is one of two bills that trigger public debate in France.
Next month, Macron’s ministers will present legislation that the French president hopes will strengthen secular values and combat “Islamist separatism.”
In a speech in October, Macron announced that the new bill would ban homeschooling from September 2021, saying that inspectors for the Education Authority often close illegal schools run by religious extremists. The proposed law would also be targeted at funding mosques.
In response to Macron’s proposal, Mohammed Moussaoui, the leader of the French Council for the Muslim Faith, said he would support the fight against extremism.
But some activists and left-wing MPs condemned Macron’s speech.
French human rights campaigner Yasser Louati tweeted that Macron had “encouraged the far right” with his speech.
Moisi said Macron’s hardened stance on security and Islamic extremism was a direct response to the recent terrorist attacks that have devastated the country and one that could help neutralize the rhetoric of right-wing extremists.
“Macron is trying to respond to developments in the situation that call for his security for more security, and he is not letting the far right take advantage of the increase in terrorist activity in France,” he told CNN.
A spokesman for the Elysee denied to CNN that there had been a shift to the right in the government, insisting that the recent legislative proposals are simply designed to protect the population.
With the next presidential election less than a year and a half away, Macron’s biggest threat comes from Marine Le Pen’s far – right party, the National Rally.
Along with the proposed legislation, Macron’s recent political appointments may also represent an attempt to neutralize his opponent.
In his last shift, the president elected a pair of conservative supporters who shifted the ideological balance in his cabinet. In the wake of the switch, Jerome Fourqet told polling station Ifop to French radio Europa 1 that Macron had seen his voter change over the past three years.
“A large number of people who voted for him – who were from the left – have left because they see that he has changed,” Fourqet said. “They have been replaced by voters who did not vote for him and who are from the right.”
Macron promoted Darmanin, a protégé of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, from budget minister to interior minister.
Darmanin was recently criticized when he said in an interview with RMC / BFMTV that he was “shocked” by the hallways dedicated to halal and kosher food in supermarkets because they undermined worldly values in France.
These were not his first controversial comments. Back in July, Darmanin weighed the topic of violence in French society – when he said “the growing savagery in a part of society must be stopped.”
“Savageness” – which means to go wild or down in the wild – is a charged term in France that carries racist overtones and plays heavily into the far-right discourse.
Hollande lost support and, in the face of record-breaking approval ratings, became the first French president not to seek re-election. This gave Macron its opportunity.
Now with Macron’s novice party already divided and controversy surrounding his proposed legislation, the question is how much further to the right he is willing or able to go to keep the leadership intact.