Macron’s World

How the New President Is Remaking France

Monsieur Fix It: Macron visiting a factory in Amiens, October 2017  PHILIPPE WOJAZER / REUTERS

In 2015, before resigning his position as economy minister in President François Hollande’s government, Emmanuel Macron explained his idea of French democracy to the newspaper Le 1. “Democracy,” he said, “always implies some kind of incompleteness. . . . In French politics, this absence is the figure of the king, whose death I fundamentally believe the French people did not want.” 

What he meant was that the French people instinctively demand a strong state with centralized leadership, that France does best when its executive actually governs rather than merely serves as a vehicle for ideological and personal rivalries. That sentiment has run through French politics for over two centuries, since the French Revolution, through two empires, the Vichy regime, and five parliamentary republics. In modern times, it has become especially prominent. In 1958, the Fourth Republic’s last president, René Coty, persuaded Charles de Gaulle to return to power to deal with a military

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