Between the two men, the rhythm of the dance steps gradually shifted. Synchronous with most of the reforms, Édouard Philippe and Emmanuel Macron constantly displayed a choreographed official communication praising their proximity. " There is not a sheet of cigarette paper between them ", liked to repeat their respective entourage. It is clear that the grammage of the sheet has increased over the crises.
The stumbling blocks have multiplied, often on the background of reforms, and communication has cracked. To the point of landing a prancing Prime Minister in public opinion and emerged comforted from the municipal authorities after his re-election as mayor of Le Havre. With one objective: to renew the head of government to embody a new " act " of the quinquennium. Back on five differences between Emmanuel Macron and his Prime Minister.
● Off the fuel tax, Macron corrects Philippe
It was the fire starter of the “yellow vests” revolt: the carbon tax. The increase planned for January 1, 2019 was the detonator of the crisis, forcing the Prime Minister to urgently announce a moratorium on the tax increase. Less than 24 hours after this tax break decided by Édouard Philippe, the Élysée Palace announced on the evening of December 5, 2018, the outright abandonment of the initially planned increase. At the same time, however, the National Assembly was finishing its fifth hour of session and was preparing to vote largely on the declaration of Edouard Philippe, who still relied on a " solution (...) resulting from the debate ".
More than just a mess, it was a real disavowal at this time. The head of state had himself picked up the phone to ask François de Rugy, then minister of ecological transition, to relay the new version live on the set of BFMTV. After confirming that the fuel tax increases were " canceled for the year 2019 ", the minister reported the conversation he had had a few minutes earlier with the president. " He said to me:" people had the impression that there was an entourage, that they were told it was a suspension but hop, it will come back after (the Europeans) ". Like that, there is no circle, "he had clearly decided. Emmanuel Macron and Édouard Philippe had never displayed such differences since the election of the first to the presidency of the Republic.
● The 80km / h, an idea of Philippe germinates of " yellow heels "
The sling had been brutal, immediate and unexpected. Like the Prime Minister's assumed decision. The law on speed limits to 80 km / h on secondary roads was the second point of conflict between the President of the Republic and the head of government. By taking this measure alone, Édouard Philippe had succeeded in getting rid of a good part of the French, but also of the elected officials who criticized the government for not having been consulted beforehand.
Result: the government brutally operated a changeover. On Thursday, May 16, 2019, the message passed that " if the presidents of departmental councils wish to assume their responsibilities ". The head of government " sees no inconvenience ". " It would be crazy to lower the level of ambition ", however, had warned Édouard Philippe a few days before this about-face, as if he was addressing the head of state in hollow, bitter at having been disowned for because of angry " yellow vests ".
And for good reason: the turnaround was undertaken by Emmanuel Macron in person. Within the framework of the great national debate, solution of exit imagined by the executive to face the crisis of "yellow vests", the president of the Republic had opened the possibility of an adjustment of the limitation to 80km / h, was thus distinguishing itself from the position hitherto supported by its Prime Minister. Especially since the measure did not appear in the presidential program of candidate Emmanuel Macron. Each time, he still took care of Edouard Philippe. " The government was right to tackle the subject of road insecurity, this is an important debate and it was courageous, " said the head of state regularly.
● The pivotal age: when Philippe crosses the “ red line ”
It was the " red line " of the CFDT and its number one, Laurent Berger, which led France to know its longest phase of successive strikes. The pivotal age set at 64 in the pension reform project was - like the 80 km / h law - a measure wanted by the Prime Minister. And Edouard Philippe did not intend to let go. He announced it during his speech to the Economic, Social and Environmental Council on December 11, 2019. The measure was not, however, in the program of candidate Emmanuel Macron.
Read also: "On the contrary": how Macron sowed trouble over the future of Philippe at Matignon
At first, Emmanuel Macron agrees with his Prime Minister. " It's French money. We don't charge our children and grandchildren , ”said President Le Monde , according to Le Monde . Before the Head of State announces that he was finally " willing " to improve the project, particularly on the pivotal age, then leave the hands of the social partners to appease their anger. And the coronavirus crisis has arrived ... Now, no decision has been made.
● “ Risk of collapse ” of the country: the day Macron dissociates himself from Philippe
More than on the merits, this time it was an explanation of the text that Emmanuel Macron and his prime minister indulged in. During the presentation of his deconfinement plan to the National Assembly on April 28, 2020, Édouard Philippe worried about a “risk of economic collapse” of the country, in the event of prolonged confinement. "No, I don't have those big words," said Emmanuel Macron a week later, during a television interview. "I measure the massive economic shock" caused by the health crisis, is content to declare the head of state. A few hours later, the Prime Minister repeated his fear of a “collapse” in the event of prolonged confinement.
Lexical, the disavowal is nonetheless revealing. And for the first time, the divergence between the two men is expressed publicly. It illustrates the polyphony expressed at the top of the State, to the point of blurring the message in the midst of a health crisis, while tensions between the Elysée and Matignon - denied on both sides - were exposed during the preparation of the deconfinement strategy. On the one hand, Emmanuel Macron seeks to lead the country, when Édouard Philippe is forced to decline the practical modalities of confinement and its exit, in a role of executant.
● Final tensions over the pace of deconfinement and its modalities
If the coronavirus crisis has revealed several tensions between the two heads of the executive, the most notable has focused on the pace to give deconfinement. When Edouard Philippe plays with caution and pleads for a later deconfinement, Emmanuel Macron accelerates. The decision to announce a deconfinement for May 11 was taken by the Head of State himself, alone.
Another quarrel, more anecdotal but no less symbolic of the surge of tension between the two men, was reported by Philippe de Villiers, the creator of Puy-du-Fou. Origin of the conflict: the reopening of the famous theme park, which the Prime Minister refused to see opened in May. The head of state finally authorized it on June 11 by communicating his decision by SMS to the sovereignist. “ On May 17, I had a conversation with Emmanuel Macron and I said to him: 'why is he doing this, Édouard Philippe, why don't we deconfine faster? He said to me, 'Edouard Philippe, he manages his criminal risk', ”affirmed on BFMTV the former president of the sovereignist party Mouvement pour la France, who referred to the numerous complaints which have been filed against the executive for his management of the epidemic. " There was a disagreement between them " on the pace of the deconfinement, he continued. " And Macron is quite bitter to see that Edouard Philippe is more popular than him, because, in fact, he (Emmanuel Macron) wanted to deconfinate faster. That's what he told me. He said to me: 'otherwise, the country will die,' ”concluded Philippe de Villiers.