The urgency of a truce

There are times when firmness turns into stubbornness, when intransigence turns into blindness. Emmanuel Macron, by choosing to remain inflexible in the face of the social movement against pension reform, is now playing with fire, while the country threatens to turn a little more into the fire every day. Since the passage in parliamentary force with the recourse to 49.3 to have the reform adopted, then the motion of censure of the government narrowly rejected by the National Assembly, the anger which has been boiling in France for almost two months of mobilization has overflowed. Not a day goes by without spontaneous demonstrations punctuating the country, and violence being expressed on the territory. Distressing images, which we had hoped were over since the movement of “yellow vests”, are looping on screens and social networks, to the point that the Head of State had to, a humiliating decision, postpone the visit of a neighboring ruler, Charles III. With, as a result, an already very large number of wounded, increasingly belligerent radical militants, overwhelmed law enforcement and the return of the hopeless cycle of police violence.

How did we get here ? How, after weeks of peaceful mobilization and when the reform is largely rejected by the French, did we arrive at this situation of deadlock, demonstrators against power, inter-union against government, without any real prospect of dialogue ever having sketched out on the side of the executive? Arched on the legality of the parliamentary process, while the debates were voluntarily limited by the government and that the text was not even submitted to the vote of the deputies because of 49.3, the president remains straight in his boots. Completely determined not to give in on the substance of the reform, he even took the risk, during his television interview on March 22, of aggravating the confrontation, by calling it ” crowd “ the demonstrators, thus seeming to play the order card against the agitators. The Head of State now relies on the Constitutional Council which will judge the compliance of the reform by April 21 – with significant risks of censorship. He had only one watchword for his troops in recent days: hold on.

A president cannot play against his country

This inflexible attitude, which seems to bet on the deterioration of the situation, is dangerous. Because each passing day increases the risk of disorder, while France is experiencing its tenth day of mobilization against the reform on Tuesday March 28. No one, opponents or police, is safe from a fatal tragedy – think of the two demonstrators against the Sainte-Soline basin project, in a life-threatening emergency at the time we close. It is now essential to restore calm and appease the country, or to declare a truce. A « pause » in reform, as cleverly suggested by Laurent Berger, leader of the CFDT, who demonstrates a little more each day to what extent he is the key to this extraordinary conflict. The president would be well advised to quickly make an ally of him, instead of ignoring him as he has done so far.

It is indeed the whole strategy and let’s say it, the hubris of Emmanuel Macron, which is today in question. Before France really falls into an insurrectionary situation, the president must hear that his reform is rejected from all sides and that, if he keeps institutional weapons, he loses legitimacy every day to impose it. A president cannot play against his country, it is his responsibility to rise above contingencies, in the interest of the nation. No reform is worth creating the conditions for social disorder, which Jacques Chirac had understood twice, in 1995 with the abandonment of the reform of special pension schemes, and in 2006 with the postponement of the application of the CPE. Knowing how to step back when there is still time also testifies to the intelligence of the situation, a hallmark of true heads of state. We always lose by not knowing how to create unity. We always win by knowing how to bring people together.

Source : Nouvelobs

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