French President Emmanuel Macron who rode to victory in the 2017 elections on a “neither Left nor Right” platform, is actively drifting to the ‘right’ side. Of late, world politics has seen a reversal in the trend of sorts in the context that right-wing leaders are no longer frowned upon, and the hegemony left-liberals enjoyed on the public discourse was losing its sheen. From the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 to the winning of Republican candidate Donald Trump against all odds in 2016—the victories of these leaders paint a clear pattern that ‘Right is the future’. PM Modi and his major vote bank are right and the centrists, similarly, Trump’s vote back is the conservatives and hardcore nationalists.
With elections coming up hot in 2022 and Macron more than ever looking to come back in power, it seems like the leader is pragmatically switching camps.
Macron’s losing hold in the recent elections
One of the biggest reason as to why Macron is leaving the cabal of liberals and the left is because his party La République En Marche (LREM) had to face a drubbing in the recent local elections. Macron’s LREM party candidates failed to win any large cities in last month’s local elections, and many smaller towns and rural areas went to the right-wing LR party. The drifting of the votes to a staunch right-winger party and the president’s low standing according to opinion polls is the reason Macron wants to ditch left intelligentsia.
Some political pundits see the shape of the new government as confirmation that Macron’s priority is not out there to woo the left — many of whom instinctively detest the president.
What vindicates Macron’s decision to shift to the right end of the political spectrum is the recent cabinet reshuffle that he undertook last month.
The President picked Jean Castex, another conservative, as his new prime minister in a post-COVID reshuffle which substantially increased the influence of Right-wingers in the cabinet, including interior minister Gérald Darminin and finance minister Bruno Le Maire.
“Clearly for Emmanuel Macron, his strategy for 2022 is to be the right-wing candidate and to make sure that there is no-one coming from ‘Les Républicains’, the right-wing party, coming as a contender,” noted Alexis Poulin, a political analyst on Macron ditching the garb of liberalism.
Islamic terrorism and Radical Islam
French President Emmanuel Macron who on the plank of being an economic and social liberal swept to power in 2017, has over the past few months, binned liberalism as he finally acts tough against the illegal immigrants.
The thing that took liberalism out of him was the prevalence of radical Islamist thought in many regions of French cities, threatening the very idea of the French nation.
Perhaps owing to various terror attacks in the last two years, be it the ghastly November 2015 Paris terror attacks which killed 130 people or the Nice truck attack in 2016, several knife attacks every year, and encounters with extremist ideologies, Macron has done a complete volte-face when it comes to tackling the illegal immigrants.
French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which is set to republish controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to mark the start of a trial of suspected accomplices of terrorist gunmen who attacked its offices in January 2015 has got a positive response from Macron.
“It’s never the place of a president of the Republic to pass judgment on the editorial choice of a journalist or newsroom, never. Because we have freedom of the press,” said Macron in a speech whilst extending his support to the magazine’s decision.
The European biggies like France, Italy, and others are slowly waking up to the fact that a new dictatorial leader in its immediate neighborhood is looking to wage a battle on religious extremism grounds. The dictatorial leader being mentioned is none other than Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Libyan war and the intrusion of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean has forced Macron’s to take evasive action. Contrary to what most liberal regimes would have done or what an olden liberal Macron would have done, the right-winger Macron has taken things in his own hands and come out all guns blazing.
Macron is one of the first European leaders who has openly called out and Turkey and said that the Islamic republic cannot just bully around Cyprus and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean any longer as Paris had physically entered the conflict zone.
A couple of weeks ago, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to increase deployment in the Eastern Mediterranean, while asking Ankara to hold back its exploration work in the disputed waters. Consequently, two Rafale fighter jets and a naval frigate- ‘Lafayette’ were dispatched to counter the growing Turkish threat to Cyprus and Greece.
Now, Paris is also joining in military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean alongside Italy, Greece and Cyprus.
La situation en Méditerranée orientale est préoccupante. Les décisions unilatérales de la Turquie en matière d’exploration pétrolière provoquent des tensions. Celles-ci doivent cesser pour permettre un dialogue apaisé entre pays voisins et alliés au sein de l'OTAN.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 12, 2020
The war of words between Turkey’s Erdogan and France’s Emanuel Macron has been ongoing since November, last year.
It all started when Erdogan had advised his French counterpart to “check whether he is brain dead” as the Turkish administration and again blamed France for “dragging Libya into chaos,”
A couple of months back Macron had called Turkey’s support for the Libyan government a “dangerous game” and urged Erdogan to end his activities in the war-torn country.
While liberal Macron sat on the fence about Libya and only resorted to sending covert military help to LNA, the right-winger Macron is not afraid to take the occasional risk. The Rafale fighters dismantling Turkey outposts being a case in point.
The quest for power in the country, the threat of radical Islamism, and the changing geopolitical dynamics have cause Macron to take a stand and he has chosen his battle. A thoughtful battle indeed where he is looking to take the left head-on.
The 2022 elections, which seemed well out of reach of Macron could turn on its head if he continues to practice the beliefs of the new political affiliation he has shown a willingness to swore by.
Hopefully, another liberal leader, afar in the cold country of Canada might be observing these developments and taking a note or two because truth be told, more than anybody, Canadians themselves would want their leader to tread down the path that Macron has chosen.