Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
A woman wearing a mask of Emmanuel Macron during a protest demanding better pay and more money for state-run hospitals
A woman wearing a mask of Emmanuel Macron during a protest demanding better pay and more money for state-run hospitals

It is deeply ironic that Emmanuel Macron, on an official visit to London today to celebrate the 80th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s call to resistance against Nazism, lands at a rare moment of British admiration for France.

The French handling of the pandemic, and Macron’s own decisiveness in declaring the end of lockdown三级成人视频, are being compared favourably to Boris Johnson’s fumbling attempts to lead Britain out of its own isolation measures. In every comparison between the two countries –  number of deaths, hospital outcomes (40 per cent of Covid patients in ICU died in NHS hospitals, against 15 per cent in French ones), consistency of lockdown enforcement ­ – criticism falls on the British Cabinet, not Macron’s government.

Yet still Macron left France in the aftermath of angry nationwide demonstrations by the same healthcare personnel for whom we French clapped religiously every evening at 8pm. The video of a Paris nurse ragingly throwing rocks at the police, then being arrested, none too gently, by several burly officers in full combat gear, went viral. Hospital staff feel things have gone back to “normal” without any sign of government bean counters appreciating either their tireless efforts or the problems with mismanagement in the French hospital system that have been exposed by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, France has faced more unrest: violent offshoots of Black Lives Matters demonstrations, but also five days of ethnic street battles in the quiet city of Dijon, once the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, between members of the Chechen and French-Algerian communities carrying knives, baseball bats and guns, that went on almost unchecked by the police and gendarmerie for the first 48 hours.

Right-wing politicians campaign on public order; Left-wing ones on police brutality. It’s all got a whiff of 1919 in Weimar Germany, with added Twitter. The second round of the municipal elections, postponed because of the pandemic, will be held on June 28. Macron’s movement, La République en March三级成人视频e, will fare badly. This is in good part because he hasn’t built an actual party and has little to no effective local presence, but also because he is deeply unpopular, with the lowest approval figures of all Western politicians.

三级成人视频It’s the spin that does Macon in: half-hour solemn addresses from the Élysée, long on grandiose phrases and short on practical announcements; unfortunate statements like “masks and tests are unnecessary” early on when “we don’t have any yet” would have been more accurate, or his more recent claim that “we never lacked PPE”, which is demonstrably false.

It is, in a way, fascinating. Surely the President must have seen that his prime minister, Édouard Philippe, who had the lesser task of explaining measures and giving figures, was overtaking him in popularity. Yet still his style, with the slightly hollow delivery of the classical French actor he once hoped to become, never changed. His pollsters must have told him that the French felt he was “lying” to them; but apologies there were none.

Instead, Élysée advisers floated, for a few moments, then emphatically denied, the notion that the President was ready to call a snap election “because there [was] no-one to oppose him right now”, which may be a measure of the worry at the top.

三级成人视频Macron’s address, last Sunday, delivered good news and clear measures on the ending of the lockdown. But it’s the line on France not pulling down her statues or erasing any part of her history that polled best, and it may not be enough to guarantee that he can be re-elected in 2022 – even, if the stars align, against Marine Le Pen.