French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a reception in honor of the French Army forces at the Defence Ministry at the Hotel de Brienne in Paris, July 13, 2017, on the eve of Bastille Day commemorations. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Matthieu Alexandre

Macron, Obama -2.0

6 mins read
Emmanuel Macron announces budget reductions on July 13 2017. Credit: AFP

Emmanuel Macron has brought to the French government the same fresh air Barack Obama had brought to and sustained in the White House for eight years. He is cool, calm, collected and charismatic.

French voters were not unanimous on his election. It was widely agreed that his victory would be on account of his opponent FN leader Marine Le Pen being a greater evil than he.

A key element to young right-wing voters who swung towards him was his age. At 39 years old, President Macron is among the youngest leaders France has known and he is the youngest elected leader of the Fifth Republic.

Listening to his speeches, looking at his professional path and watching his family, the President is more mature than his age would indicate. That is what makes him a personality that is impossible to put in a box.

A feminist and a businessman, Mr Macron was set to be a progressive leader in France. He certainly made it clear that he would not concede to intimidating  figures such as US President Donald Trump, whom he invited to enjoy the French Fete Nationale on July 14.

July 14 also marked 100 years since the US army entered into the First World War.

Macron and Trump have had their differences; the French President was seen holding tightly onto Mr Trump’s hand during their first publicised handshake. He later confirmed it was a display of political strength and a refusal to budge in front of the American bully.

Trump decided to get back at him on the 14th, when he not only started the most awkward handshake of 2017, but then insulted the First Couple by subjecting First Lady Brigitte Macron to a review of her physical form.

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron in a perpetual power struggle. Credit: US Embassy France

To end the patriotic festivities, the French army had prepared an unusual piece for the last hurrah; a Daft Punk medley to see the President and his guest of honour off. Disruptive to tradition though it may be, the crowds swooned.

Prior to the 14 Juillet, Mr Macron was keeping a relatively low profile in the news, but his decisions were being scrutinised by citizens.

He recently announced budget cuts for 2018, affecting nearly every Ministry in the French government. Most notably, the Ministry of Women’s Rights will be seeing a 25% decrease of 7.5 million € to its finances. This is a significant indent, considering the already low number they are expected to work with.

True to his word, Mr Macron is reducing budgets everywhere and supposedly reducing taxes for the people. This is part of his mission to provide the French with more buying power. The questionable exception to his strategy is his 1.5 billion € increase to the budget for the French Army, which was reported by French radio station RTL.

How interesting, then, that he would find it more important to fund the preparation for warfare, rather than work on the education and healthcare of women and families.
Still on the topic of women’s rights to sexual safety: Macron had in his bid for the Presidency expressed a “necessary” need to stop sexual criminals from entering into French parliament. Since his inauguration, the law has been looked into but has not progressed through legislation. Instead, the French Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet disapproved the amendment.

While the latter is not a decision that is entirely in the hands of Mr Macron, this list of events and reforms show a similarity between Emmanuel Macron and Barack Obama. They are both fresh new faces in their political generations and know how to treat the press. They are seen as charistmatic, young, intelligent and more importantly, empathetic.

What they both show in their decision-making, however, is a business-like approach to reforms. Rather than look at their people as persons with individual needs, they make the difficult choice of looking at the numbers, assessing the benefits and making the necessary sacrifices.

Mr Macron’s decisions are understandable and while they make sense on paper, they also feel like we are regressing. His 60 years of mental age show in his deterrence of women’s progress in society and remind us of France as being a key player in international power politics, and adhering fully to the realist theory.

Featured Image Credit: AFP

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