Macron Gambles on Centrist Populism in His Campaign for EU ‘Renewal’

Macron Gambles on Centrist Populism in His Campaign for EU ‘Renewal’
A newspaper featuring an open letter from French President Emmanuel Macron on a newsstand in Paris, March 5, 2019 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

French President Emmanuel Macron has apparently gotten so much mileage at home out of his “Grand débat national,” or great national debate, that he has decided to take it on the road for a European tour. Several months ago, Macron began engaging in marathon dialogue sessions around France with local elected officials in an attempt to respond to the grassroots grievances that gave rise to the Yellow Vest movement. Though initially greeted with skepticism by many, Macron’s impressive ability to discuss arcane policy matters at length and in depth without the assistance of notes or aides paid off in opinion polls. His favorability ratings have since returned to levels last seen before the emergence of the Yellow Vests.

Now, in an open letter published simultaneously in dailies across the European Union on Tuesday, Macron capped off his proposals for “European renewal” with a call for a Conference for Europe “to engage with citizens’ panels and hear academics, business and labor representatives, and religious and spiritual leaders” and “define a roadmap for the EU that translates these key priorities into concrete actions.”

The similarity to Macron’s listening tour back home is no coincidence, and the contrast in both the method and the substance of Macron’s latest package of EU reforms with his previous proposals is revealing.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.