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France: President Macron and Elisabeth Borne face a turbulent return


Holidays over. Emmanuel Macron and his Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne are preparing for a turbulent return, with the French overtaken by the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine and an opposition in ambush on many subjects.

The president and the government will be back no later than Wednesday for the Council of Ministers after a summer break disrupted by unprecedented fires in France and deadly thunderstorms in Corsica.

In the face of adversity, the tone is set: “The red thread of the start of the school year will be general mobilization”, they say in the entourage of the head of state. With a command, “energy sobriety”.

Emmanuel Macron prepared the French on July 14 for a difficult autumn, with the risk of energy shortages fueled by the gas conflict with Russia. Commemorating the 78th anniversary of the Landings in Provence on Friday, the Head of State dramatized the issue by invoking “the price to pay for freedom”.

For the executive, deprived of an absolute majority since June, the political horizon is also darkening after a first jump of obstacles without too much difficulty on the purchasing power package. “They started with an exercise on ‘easy’ themes such as purchasing power. The hardest is coming »anticipates political scientist Bruno Cautrès.

“Battle for the climate”

The opposition is determined to fight over the 2023 budget and heated debates are looming on the reform of unemployment insurance, pensions or immigration. With a dilemma for the presidential camp: “how to stay the course and left and right” and “not to fall into a form of coalition with Les Républicains”notes Bruno Cautrès.

However, the executive wants to be confident. “The start of the new school year is approached with serenity when there is a clear direction, consistency and consistency in the action taken, as well as total clarity on the challenges to be met”, assures the entourage of the president. The cape is the “sovereignty”in particular energy, the “battle for the climate” and ” the equality of chances “.

A government seminar devoted in particular to ecology will be held in the last days of August. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne must also deliver a “Strong discourse on energy sobriety and transition” at the Medef summer university at the end of August. The Head of State asked him to “submit in the fall an ecological planning agenda broken down by month and year”specifies the Elysée.

He himself will make a trip devoted to offshore wind turbines at the beginning of September and will speak on education topics at the start of the school year.

Immigration on the back-to-school menu

Emmanuel Macron will also launch the National Council for Refoundation (CNR), which must involve elected officials, economic and social actors and citizens in consultation, on September 8 on the themes of school, health and public services.

So many themes likely to speak to the center left, just like the debate on the right to vote for foreigners initiated by the deputy Sacha Houlié (Renaissance). On this topic, “the president was not consulted and he considers that it is not a priority”however, observes a regular at the Elysée.

Among the most promising subjects on the right, the orientation and programming bill of the Ministry of the Interior (Lopmi), which should provide an additional 15 billion euros in budget in five years, will be examined in October in Parliament.

The immigration bill was postponed to December, at the request of the Elysée and Matignon, and will be preceded by a “great debate” in both bedrooms. On the budget, the presidential camp does not rule out going through article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows a text to be adopted without a vote, by engaging the responsibility of the government.

“From the moment we guess that the Nupes (at least) will ask thousands of amendments, it is hard to see how we could do otherwise…”concedes a member of the majority.

“The political situation is unstable”points out a close friend of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who sees “two options” : “either a stable coalition between Macron and LR, or at the end a return to the polls”with a dissolution.

See also on The HuffPost: “It started like a matchbox”, Borne in Gironde to learn the lessons of forest fires

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