Lord Kilmorey, Richard Needham in the real world, held different British ministries between 1985 and 1995 and was one of the few Conservative MPs who never admired Margaret Thatcher. She despised him for being one of those “wets” who worried about unemployment numbers and growing inequality. He left for posterity a phrase that he perfectly defined Thatcher, without the need to mention it: “People who are brutally honest enjoy brutality as much as honesty, or possibly more.”
Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as president last year with a program that included pension reform. Those who voted for him knew his purpose of delaying the retirement age. No one can claim to be deceived. What is in question is not so much the substance of the reform (about which the Constitutional Council could hardly object) as the way in which it has been carried out: by decree, with the opposition of the National Assembly and with a certain cruel relish. by the president.
A Macron, the great destroyer of the French political landscape (a landscape that had surely been in ruins for years), has now embarked on a battle against the unions, perhaps for life and death. Just like Thatcher is 40 years old. And he has done it, like Thatcher, with a brutal honesty in which, appealing to Lord Kilmorey, he seems to have particularly enjoyed the brutality. With more than four years of mandate ahead.
From today until 2027, pensions will mark political activity. Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leaders of the two movements ―there are no major parties left in France― that flank Macronism by the extreme right and the extreme left, have already called for the vote of those who want to recover their retirement at 62 years of age. . For the far-right Le Pen, who is leading the polls right now, the unpopular reform constitutes a strong push, perhaps enough to achieve that majority that voters have denied her twice, both times against Macron.
Several important factors should be taken into account. One, that there are no highly relevant elections in sight (partial senatorial elections in the autumn, European elections next year) and Macron therefore has a certain margin. Two, that not all of France rejects the reform: in the cities, where office jobs abound, it does not look as bad as in industrial and rural areas. And three: that any promise to revoke the reform, like the one formulated by Marine Le Pen, has little reliability. The heiress to the Le Pen dynasty has changed her position enough times on fundamental issues (euro no, euro yes, for example) to estimate the doubt.
Let us return to honesty and remember that Macron has not been completely honest: a few months ago he still completely ruled out the option of carrying out the reform by way of article 49, section 3, of the Constitution, that is, by decree. And that was what he did. As for brutality, on the contrary, there can be no remedy. He has been as brutal in classrooms as the police have been, and continue to be, on the street.
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It is possible that the union and citizen protest would not have been so vehement if the president were another. Half of France viscerally hates Macron. The other half does not vote for him out of conviction, but for convenience: reforms are needed and the only alternative to Macron, for the moment, is the extreme right. Large doses of brutality can be expected, from one side and the other, in the near future.
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