Is this a new communication stunt? The political event of this day in France is the second edition of the Saint-Denis Meetings convened by Emmanuel Macron. The President of the Republic wanted to repeat his tour de force at the end of August when he discussed with party leaders for 12 hours… behind closed doors and on almost all subjects. Except this time, half of the party leaders declined the invitation.
On August 30, Emmanuel Macron achieved a small feat: bringing the leaders of the country’s main parties around the table, alongside the leaders of the parliamentary chambers, to ask them for their recommendations on the reforms that France would need. For this second meeting, still in Saint-Denis, the agenda has been tightened: no more question of letting your interlocutors unfold their priorities, the objective is to achieve concrete progress. Apart from points on the situation in the Middle East, Corsica, or abortion, it will essentially be a question of broadening the use of referendums, the only area of agreement between the parties during the previous meeting, believes the head of the state. But even this apparent consensus is debated: in the letter addressed to party leaders, the president mentions potential referendums on end of life or immigration.
The Macron-Ciotti quarrel
The Socialists and the Rebels who declined the invitation. The boss of the PS Olivier Faure refuses to support a possible referendum on immigration, and the coordinator of France Insoumise Manuel Bompard denounces a “monarchical exercise” aimed at bypassing Parliament. No PS, no Rebels and no Republicans around the table. The boss of LR, Eric Ciotti, wrote a long open letter to the President of the Republic to explain his absence, a real diatribe against the action of the Head of State. The rag is burning between the President of the Republic and Eric Ciotti… who clearly could not stand the absence of the Head of State at the march against anti-Semitism last Sunday. The President of the Republic writes that he refuses “to be the guarantor of a new sequence of narration which will achieve nothing”. Stop communicating, take action, urges Eric Ciotti.
This letter is in fact a response to Emmanuel Macron’s comments on Wednesday in Switzerland. At the RFI microphone, the head of state described the absence of the boss of the LR of “ major political mistake “.
Action or communication, these meetings in Saint-Denis?
The first edition at the end of August resulted in two announcements: a social conference on low wages… which did take place this conference in mid-October but the least we can say is that it was left the unions hungry. Not really anything concrete apart from the creation of a High Remuneration Council. And then second announcement: a debate in Parliament on the international situation, in particular the French strategy in Africa but the war in the Middle East has visibly modified the executive’s plans. Which makes us fear a new meeting for nothing…
Read alsoFrance: after the meeting with Emmanuel Macron, party leaders skeptical
And it would not be the first time that the President of the Republic has launched an initiative of this type, outside traditional institutions, to ultimately disappoint not only his opponents but also some of his allies. We remember the Yellow Vest crisis five years ago. Emmanuel Macron had spent hours discussing with local elected officials in a whole series of major debates… But these meetings had given birth to a mouse. Between the Presidential election and the legislative elections, last year, Emmanuel Macron invented the National Council for Refoundation, based on the model of the famous National Council of Resistance. With a theme for each meeting but we are still waiting for the results, particularly on the end of life. In short, the oppositions have reason to be skeptical.
Especially since expectations are high….
Each party goes there with its roadmap. Environmentalists want to put ecology back at the top of the pile. Marine Tondelier, national secretary of EELV, explained this morning what she had come to say to the Head of State, at the microphone of Charlotte Urien-Tomaka of the political service. “ One of the objectives this morning is that we come out with concrete proposals. So I will not understand that today, Emmanuel Macron refuses to add ecology to the agenda… I am not naive about what will come out of this meeting, but what I hope is that Emmanuel Macron realizes that he still hears much more in his right ear than in his left ear. He gives us a tailor-made agenda to please people who don’t even come to the end. »
The communists, for whom it is a meeting of the “ last chance “, want to talk about purchasing power, constitutional reform and overseas territories. “ Maybe this is the last chance meeting, explained this Friday morning Fabien Roussel, because there was a first meeting where several subjects were discussed, including the question of the cost of living and purchasing power, and we saw that nothing had really changed. Now we’re going to have this one. Afterwards, there are other subjects on the agenda for which I come… (like) the question of constitutional reform. We have proposals to make to reform the Constitution, proposals for our so-called overseas territories, where there are strong expectations. On all these subjects, we wish to make proposals… If indeed, there too nothing tangible comes out, well I think that everyone will be able to draw their conclusions for the next one. »
As for the National Rally, its boss Jordan Bardella wants to talk about security, he also said it just this morning. “ I believe that the world and Europe are going through an international context of unprecedented gravity, but that this international context must not relegate to the background the daily anxieties of our fellow citizens, and the daily lives of people and French people, and force is to note that from this point of view, no major progress has been made since the first meetings in Saint-Denis that we had at the end of August. And what I came to say to the President of the Republic, I believe that purchasing power and security remain concrete, daily concerns for the French, while we experienced an attack on French soil, there is still a few days, when a teacher was assassinated on the territory of the French Republic, and where anti-Semitic acts are experiencing an unprecedented increase in our society. »
The President of the Republic says he is open to broadening the use of the referendum to societal issues including the reception of immigrants in France. And it did not fall on deaf ears… It is notably a proposal from the National Rally which seeks to further gain credibility by responding to the invitation of the Head of State.