A keen observer of French political life and columnist for FigaroVox, Maxime Tandonnet has published Andre Tardieu. L'incompris (Perrin, 2019) and Georges Bidault: de la Résistance à l'Algérie française (Perrin, 2022).
In the political imagination of the French, Édouard Philippe occupies a special place. From his appointment as prime minister, after the presidential election of May 2017, until his departure from Matignon three years later, the former head of government of President Macron is at the top of the most popular political figures, according to all polls. The latest Odexa public Senate rewards him with 38% of good opinions, ahead of Marine Le Pen (36%). Admittedly, it would be excessive to speak of a national enthusiasm in his favor, but in terms of relative popularity, Édouard Philippe's domination over the entire political class now seems to be permanently established.
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However, the record of government policy, in the years that coincide with his action at Matignon, can hardly explain this popularity, even if he is obviously not the only one responsible. For the most part, historians will remember three events from this period. The first is the renunciation of enforcing the authority of the State regarding the construction of the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in the face of the zadistes. The second is the outbreak of the crisis of the "yellow vests": several months of violence and destruction, wanting to impose the carbon tax and the speed limit to 80 km / h – before giving up. The third is the chaotic beginning of the management of the Covid-19 health crisis, in particular the psychodrama of masks and the establishment of an Absurdistan of sinister memory (certificates of exits, repression, one-upmanship of unnecessary bullying such as the prohibition of beaches and the closure of bookstores).
While the crisis of confidence of the French towards the political world reaches its climax [...] the former first head of government of President Macron is generally considered to have "clean hands".
Its positions in the public debate since 2020 are also not likely to promote this popularity. Didn't Édouard Philippe plead for a retirement age of 67, while 80% of French people are opposed to the transition from 62 to 64 (which they consider both useless, given the 43-year rule, and unfair since it weighs on the popular France entered the labour market before the age of 21)? The paradox is striking...
So how did this relative popularity establish itself and become part of the French political landscape? One of his reasons could be the reputation of integrity of Mr. Philippe who is not known to have been implicated in corruption cases. While the crisis of confidence of the French towards the political world reaches its climax, the indictments and convictions affecting many leaders of this country, the former first head of government of President Macron is generally considered to have "clean hands". To this is undoubtedly added qualities of communicator, an indefinable air of sympathy, consensual, which emerges from his television appearances, like a kind of Chirac reminiscence. Finally, four years in advance, part of the public seems to have internalized, by dint of media hype and polling, that he could be the successor of Emmanuel Macron (non-renewable) in the presidential election of 2027 to represent the camp the "progressive and Europeanist good" in his duel announced against the "conspiracy evil, nationalist or populist". It is no coincidence that the popularity polls place Ms Le Pen just after him, anticipating the expected duel... and probably its result...
The former prime minister seems to mark his return to the foreground with a political show, in line with the most usual image that politics gives today in France.
The 2027 presidential election, let's talk about it... After years of relative discretion, Mr. Edouard Philippe has just chosen to return to the fray by getting involved, through an interview given to the Express, in the debate on immigration. He was reacting to the LR right-wing constitutional revision project while distancing himself from the worrying record of Macron's first five-year term on this subject (notwithstanding his own responsibility for three years). In an attempt to make an impression, he chose as the dominant theme of his proposals the questioning of the Franco-Algerian agreement of 1968. Admittedly, the subject is sensitive for reasons related to the history and importance of the population of Algerian immigration in France. On the other hand, this emblematic agreement is of no real interest in terms of controlling migratory flows. It has been revised several times with a view to convergence with the ordinary law on foreigners and therefore contains some differences, sometimes to the advantage and sometimes to the detriment of Algerians in France compared to nationals of other nationalities. Above all, this agreement does not concern the right of asylum (and its misuse), nor the tools to combat illegal immigration, nor the repression of slave networks in the Mediterranean, which are the real topics of the day.
In short, the former Prime Minister seems to mark his return to the foreground by a political coup spectacle, in line with the most usual image that politics gives today in France, explaining an abstention rate of 54% in the last legislative elections and a rate of mistrust that exceeds 80% (Cevipof). What if the French, scalded by the permanent Grand-Guignol that political life has become, dominated by narcissistic stunts, hysterical sleeve effects, sterile provocations, expected something else from democracy?