STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Emmanuel Macron was anointed as France's last great hope for reform. Is that all lost now?

Emmanuel Macron swept to the French presidency in 2017, seemingly out of nowhere and with large grassroots s...

Posted: Dec 11, 2018 3:03 PM
Updated: Dec 11, 2018 3:03 PM

Emmanuel Macron swept to the French presidency in 2017, seemingly out of nowhere and with large grassroots support. The irony may not be lost on the 40-year-old former banker that his new political foe, the "gilets jaunes" (or "yellow vest") movement, came to prominence in a similar way -- without the help or influence of France's usual institutions of power, the unions, the associations or the traditional political parties.

On Monday night, Macron pledged to increase France's minimum wage and scrap new pension taxes in response to weeks of violent protests that have challenged his leadership. Yet what is very clear, the morning after the President tried to find the way to the hearts of his countrymen (as his spokesman had it), is that there is now a complete distrust of his methods.

Behavior and cognition

Civil disobedience

Continents and regions

Emmanuel Macron

Europe

France

Intelligence and cognition

Political Figures - Intl

Protests and demonstrations

Science

Society

Western Europe

Out on the barricades and in the TV studios there was an exhausting and meticulous debate over every detail of the President's concessions. Where was the devil lurking in those details? What trick was the government pulling here? One heard most often: Where is my piece of the pie?

At their core, the French are staunch individualists who pull together in noisy and dramatic demonstrations when they can find common grievance. Fuel taxes, buying power, fiscal justice: that's what the gilets jaunes protesters say their movement is about. But when you come right down to it, people join the demonstrations because it is personal. How am I affected by government action?

Some gilets jaunes argue that the speed limit on rural roads should not be reduced to 80 kilometers an hour, as the government has suggested. Others are vandalizing automatic radars meant to enforce the speed limits. Everybody seems to want something, including some things the government really cannot fully provide. Last night one demonstrator was heard to demand more government protection. He couldn't provide any specifics. Just more protection, one presumes, from life's woes.

The future question for Macron is whether he can get the yellow-vested genie back into the bottle soon, or even during the rest of the three-and-a-half years he has left in office. Could it be that the current grassroots movement has permanently wounded his own grassroots movement? Macron's climbdown from his economic ambitions may be matched with an even more damaging political descent.

Just a month ago, at November's WWI commemorations, Macron was lecturing 70 world leaders -- including an irritated Donald Trump -- on how to build a more just world. Now he faces accusations from French streets that his government is one of the unjust ones.

For the past year, as Theresa May Brexited and Angela Merkel exited, Macron appeared to be an emerging European power. Remember those Macron magazine covers from last year? Among others, The Economist had "Europe's saviour," while Time went for "The Next Leader of Europe." Today they all look sadly out of date. Macron has been badly diminished by his first crisis; both at home and abroad.

How -- and if -- he can bounce back is yet to be seen. The French presidency is just as all-consuming as it is all-powerful. If you run out of ideas the way Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy did, or run out of energy, the way François Mitterrand and François Hollande did, it is immediately apparent. The French street senses right away when a president falters or retreats, especially one who was perceived from the beginning as the smartest kid in the class.

Add to that the pessimism that seems to be part of this country's DNA and you see the challenge that lies ahead for Macron. He was anointed as France's last great hope for reform. That hope has now faded but not been entirely extinguished. If it can be revived depends on how quickly the smart kid learns from his first political comeuppance.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16560

Reported Deaths: 794
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds106626
Lauderdale76068
Madison75727
Neshoba72244
Jones68632
Scott66212
Forrest59239
DeSoto5598
Leake45412
Rankin4538
Holmes44130
Copiah3254
Jackson30914
Attala30718
Yazoo2914
Newton2834
Lincoln27829
Leflore27336
Oktibbeha26714
Monroe26725
Harrison2657
Lamar2485
Lowndes2419
Wayne2353
Pearl River21231
Pike20511
Adams20216
Washington1947
Noxubee1936
Warren19110
Lee1857
Covington1772
Jasper1664
Bolivar16611
Clarke15519
Smith15311
Lafayette1504
Kemper14911
Chickasaw14014
Coahoma1284
Winston1221
Clay1184
Carroll11611
Marion1169
Claiborne1145
Lawrence1081
Simpson1040
Grenada1003
Yalobusha976
Sunflower933
Itawamba907
Hancock9012
Tate881
Union867
Montgomery861
Panola853
Marshall853
Wilkinson859
Jefferson Davis813
Tippah7611
Webster673
Calhoun674
Amite651
Walthall630
Humphreys607
Tunica563
Prentiss533
Perry513
Choctaw482
Pontotoc453
Jefferson421
Tishomingo350
Greene331
Stone320
Quitman310
Tallahatchie301
Franklin292
George281
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18766

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2284118
Jefferson1884103
Montgomery182343
Tuscaloosa82216
Marshall7059
Franklin5788
Lee55834
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43266
Butler41918
Walker3812
Elmore3729
Chambers35926
Madison3464
Morgan2981
Unassigned2972
Baldwin2929
Dallas2873
Etowah26212
Lowndes25912
DeKalb2573
Autauga2395
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2156
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1799
Russell1770
Barbour1771
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1692
Calhoun1653
Wilcox1547
Choctaw15310
Cullman1501
Clarke1492
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1051
Greene954
Winston910
Macon874
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington726
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe452
Geneva440
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Broken Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 81°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 87°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather