FIGAROVOX / INTERVIEW - A recent Ifop survey for the Jean Jaurès and Le Figaro Foundation shows that the French position Emmanuel Macron as far right as Laurent Wauquiez. Jérôme Sainte-Marie decrypts the position of the President and analyzes the current political balance of power.
Graduated from Sciences Po Paris and a degree in history, Jérôme Sainte-Marie worked at the Government Information Service and the Louis Harris Institute. He then directed BVA Opinion from 1998 to 2008 and CSA Opinion from 2010 to 2013. He also founded the iSAMA Institute in 2008. He currently directs Pollingvox, a research and advisory firm specializing in opinion issues, founded in 2013. It has published The new democratic order (ed. of the Moment, 2015)
FIGAROVOX. - According to a recent survey (IFOP for the Jean Jaurès Foundation and Le Figaro), Emmanuel Macron is perceived by the French as being on the right as Laurent Wauquiez. What does it inspire you?
Jerome SAINTE-MARIE - Everyone observes that the notions of left and right have not disappeared from the current vocabulary, but almost everyone agrees today that they are insufficient to describe political divisions. In other words, we can be positioned by the French at about the same place on this axis without having the same ideological project. For decades, it was considered that at least two dimensions, that of the socio-economic project and that of cultural values, should be taken into account in order to get an idea of its political identity. You could be more or less left on each of these two axes, that referred to ideas that were almost consensual. This is today very insufficient, because another dimension, perpendicular to the left-right alignment, has imposed itself in the public opinion: the relation with globalization, with its declensions on the European Union, on the protectionism and on immigration mainly. Emmanuel Macron, in some ways, is now perceived as right as Laurent Wauquiez. Which means in hollow, contrary to the dominant tone of the comments, that the latter is not considered too right! Especially since macronism is a melting pot where elements from the right, center and left are trying to blend in, the space of the Republicans is much more homogeneous with regard to this one-dimensional left-right identification, of which I recall the insufficient, even obsolete.
After a year of applying a liberal policy (in any case perceived as such), Emmanuel Macron still continues to propose a "left" offer on a form of cultural liberalism (PMA for all, decoration of the Assembly on grounds LGBT, festival of music at the Élysée ...). Does this mean that he is now the perfect herald of a liberal-libertarian policy corresponding to what you call an "elite bloc"?
Macron's liberalism resembles that of Hillary Clinton, against what he calls populist "leprosy" or what she calls "deplorable" people.
I think so, and that's why Emmanuel Macron's qualification as "President of the Right" seems inappropriate to me. The integrated liberalism he embodies resembles that of Hillary Clinton, against what he calls "populist" leprosy, or what the unfortunate democrat candidate described as "deplorable" people. The reading of Thomas Franck's latest work, translated into French under the title "Why the rich vote on the left," offers enlightening comparisons on this point. Emmanuel Macron is the representative of the winners of globalization, of who wants and who can enjoy all the opportunities of this one. They aspire to the removal of collective constraints in all areas, starting with this set of effective solidarity that is called the Nation. Contrary to what some of his "left" opposition believes, Emmanuel Macron is not essentially reactionary. And, despite what some of his "right" opposition sometimes wants to believe, he is anything but socialist, in the first sense of the word. These questions are not purely semantic, because their answer conditions a good political strategy. If macronism has been able to prevail, it is that it corresponds to an ideological breakthrough at the service of minority but powerful social categories. And if what was right wants to regain power for itself, it must understand the originality and intelligence of the macronist offer to constitute a competing block of sufficient size. This implies to address, beyond its usual borders, social categories that had turned away from the vote UMP and LR. And this implies in fact a certain ideological audacity, contrary to the dominant discourse. It seems to me that this is the approach that it adopts, which will need a certain amount of time to establish its credibility in public opinion.
If macronism has been able to prevail, it is that it corresponds to an ideological breakthrough at the service of minority but powerful social categories.
Is it now the question of economic liberalism that distinguishes the electorate from the FN and LR?
It has been a long time since the economic separates these electorates, between which there is however a high porosity, as we saw in the first round of the 2007 presidential election, with the conquest of millions of former voters frontists by Nicolas Sarkozy. I am thinking, for example, of an IFOP survey for the Figaro Magazine, which dates from March 2015, where certain specific FN program positions were tested. Supporters of what was the UMP were overwhelmingly in favor of those relating to the control of immigration, while they largely opposed those relating to economic policy, at the fore of which the denunciation of the euro. Much more popular than the LR electorate, that of the National Rally is more demanding social protection. It also has more assets whose employment is exposed to international competition, both by labor immigration and by industrial relocation. Conversely, LR sympathizers, who are more often retired or have a better level of vocational training, perceive more the benefits of free trade and the single European currency. In its economic dimension, the liberalism of Emmanuel Macron can seduce them, with reservations, for example when he attacks via the taxation of real estate assets.
It seems that, to stand out from Emmanuel Macron and recover part of the FN electorate, Laurent Wauquiez gradually puts aside the liberal and Europeanist approach of his speech. Is this a good strategy? Can he recover some of the FN's votes?
Not only does the line followed by Laurent Wauquiez today seem relevant to me, but it is probably the only one possible where he is. What other choice does he have? Criticize the form, pace or detail of the government's action, to form an alternative team serving the same policy? This does not seem to me to be a winning option for the right as an independent political force. However, one must be very careful in the qualification of the "Wauquiez line". It is neither anti-liberal nor anti-European, which would not be possible with what the Republican electorate is today. It seems to me to be a project of dissociation between economic liberalism and cultural liberalism on the one hand, between European project and Europeanism on the other hand. This was the essence of what François Fillon said, and what allowed him to triumph during the primary.
France Insoumise does not progress because of its left-right reading of political life.
The whole question now is to give content and credibility to this double dissociation. Emmanuel Macron on his side, and despite some incursions in the domain reggalien, is the holder of an integrated liberalism and a European commitment flawless.
As for France Insoumise, why is it struggling so much to exploit the political space left left while Emmanuel Macron is perceived as a "President of the Right"? Is this the sign of a right of French society on cultural themes?
France Insoumise managed to stay in the eyes of the French as the main opposition to the power of Emmanuel Macron. Given the weakness of its real implantation in the institutional political landscape - even in the National Assembly, it forms only the 6th group in number of deputies - it is quite remarkable and this contrasts with the erasure of the Socialist Party . Why does it not progress, and even retreat quite strongly if we judge by the polls of voting intentions for the Europeans, who provide information on the current balance of power? No doubt precisely because she has been returning for a few months to this left-right reading of political life. For example, it has adopted a totally anachronistic leftist attitude on education and immigration issues, without even mentioning its substantive relevance. For simplicity, France Insoumise moves away from the people to get closer to the left. But this notion is widely discredited, gathering only about a quarter of the French, and a good many of those who still recognize it have ideological positions, for example on Europe, closer to Emmanuel Macron than to Jean-Luc Mélenchon. France Insoumise is letting go of the populist prey for the shadow, that of the left.