FIGAROVOX / ANALYSIS - Emmanuel Macron has ambitions close to those of the former Prime Minister. And the same methods to achieve them.
Tech-savvy technos who place themselves "above the parties" and insult political politics ... If he had lived a few more years, Raymond Barre, Prime Minister Valéry Giscard d'Estaing between 1976 and 1981 then mayor Lyon from 1995 to 2001, would undoubtedly have been seduced by Emmanuel Macron's personality and positioning. Unless the game of mirrors would have repelled him. The former vice-president of the European Commission would in any case have applauded the economic program of the Head of State which takes, point by point, the measures he defended himself forty years earlier.
This nostalgic dive is defended all the more because new ideas are rare, in economics as elsewhere! And Raymond Barre remains a figure, him, the first leader, in power after the oil crisis, to give up the dogma of the recovery by the deficit, while the country discovered sluggish growth and mass unemployment.
The "Joffre of the economy"
Raymond Barre took the keys of Matignon in 1976 after the resignation of a convinced Keynesian, Jacques Chirac. To present this little-known economic policy professor to the French, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing finds warlike accents by naming him the "Joffre of the economy". Its mission is simple: to restore the country before the legislative elections of 1978. Its priority? Improve the competitiveness of companies. His remedy? Liberalize the labor market so that wages are better correlated with productivity.
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His policy speech of October 1976 already sets the tone. "France faces employment problems that stem from a number of causes: the aspiration to work of a growing number of women, which is legitimate, the flight of young people from manual jobs, the mismatch between offers and job applications, due to insufficient initial training, "he pleaded. In response, the prime minister promises to upgrade manual work, simplify and deconcentrate vocational training, and work on the reintegration of unemployed youth.
The work orders or the reforms of apprenticeship and training, in preparation, have the same ambitions. In the limit of the monetary component (the future eurozone is then embryonic), the parallels with Macron are very numerous. The Barre plan wants to restore foreign trade and reduce the budget deficit. Its industrial policy seems just as contemporary. It is the first post-war policy to follow a Schumpeterian philosophy, assuming to abandon to their fate the "lame duck", the uncompetitive companies that survive only through public support.
This corpus strongly shook the political Landerneau. The Prime Minister does not invent very much. He resumed, adapting them to the French framework, the great liberal principles in vogue at the time. The OECD recommends as early as 1978 to review the effectiveness of public action and to ease the functioning of the labor market. Already…
Behind the parallel between the two men, there is the question of the relevance of Macron's choices. If the liberal measures implemented by the president have already been tested in France, notably by Raymond Barre, should they not have already proved their effectiveness for forty years? But the country's growth has never seemed so structurally low and high unemployment. To the credit of the few governments that have tried to reform the country in this sense, none before Macron had benefited from enough time and a favorable environment.
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