The French president has a history of letting the mask slip.
Some people in the English-speaking world seemed surprised to learn of Macron’s recent statements on African women having too many children, which he holds as one of the main reasons that the continent’s countries find themselves in such difficulty. He had nothing to say on the role of colonialism.
While Macron took great pains to remain as ambiguous as possible during the presidential campaign, his time as Minister for the Economy and Finance was punctuated by the occasional surfacing of how he really sees the world. Recent events are only a continuation of this trend. It’s never very pretty, and invariably these calculated sorties and Freudian slips show that for someone so young, he really does have a lot of very provincial, old-fashioned views.
“If I was unemployed, I wouldn’t expect everything from someone else, I’d try to make it on my own first.”
This was his answer when asked by the journalist Jean-Jacques Bourdin what he would do if he ever found himself unemployed. This was in early 2015, days after the first controversial labour-unfriendly law to carry his name was forced through the National Assembly with a blocked vote, one of the far-reaching powers afforded to the government under the constitution of the Fifth Republic.
“What we need are young French people who want to become billionaires !”
Speaking in an interview with the neoliberal economy-focused daily Les Echos on what kind of France he wished to see develop in the future; the ‘start-up nation’ of which he is so fond.
“Often, the life of an entrepreneur is much harder than that of an employee, we shouldn’t forget this. The entrepreneur can lose everything, and he has fewer guarantees”
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“Liberalism is a value of the left”
Another moment where Macron’s authentic political philosophy became visible. He said he was more interested in rewarding success and equal opportunities than equality.
“Workers need to be able to work more without being paid more if the representative unions are in agreement”
Another quote from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Macron was arguing against the 35 hour week, a classic bug-bear of big business who claim that it has hurt France’s competitiveness in the world market. Never mind that official studies show that the 35 hour work week created as many as 450 000 jobs when it was brought into place in the early 2000s.
“You aren’t going to scare me with your T-shirt, the best way to buy a suit is to get a job.”
The majority of the quotes in this list were made tactically by Macron to make a name for himself. He was a young minister in a left-wing government trying to make himself stand out. This quote however is pure off-the-cuff reaction, and for that reason it is perhaps more revelatory. On a visit to an IT school in the Hérault, he found himself bothered by some unemployed protesters. As this quote shows, their exchange became more than a little heated.
“The British were lucky to have had Thatcher”
Macron popped up in a brief segment in this hour-long distortion of reality helmed by Robert Peston, who sneered his way through the country dishing out the classic gallo-phobic rot: the French strike too much, the French labour code is too big and complicated, the French state spends too much money. There were far too many lazy untruths trotted out, far too many rabid free marketeers that were allowed to give their opinion as though they were unbiased commentators. Let’s face it, the BBC doesn’t know how to report economics.
“France is mourning its king”
In an interview Macron claimed that the execution of the King had left a void in French politics that they had tried to fill with monarchical figures like Napoleon and De Gaulle. He took the opportunity to make a jab at his then patron François Hollande, saying that the ‘normalisation’ of the role of the presidency had made the void open up once more. Perhaps this is where his weird statements about being a ‘Jupiterian’ president come from.
“A train station is a place where you come across people who succeed and people who are nothing”
This is first of two final bonus statements made since Macron has been president. This one was made at a launch that looked and sounded more like a TED talk than anything else. If you’re wondering it had all the simplistic content of one too.
“The kwassa-kwassa doesn’t fish much: it brings in Comorians”
This last one was made very recently and requires a bit of an explanation. Visiting a search-and-rescue station in Brittany he tried to make a joke. A kwassa-kwassa is the name for the little fishing boats that are used by the Comorians in the Indian ocean. They are also frequently used by the same Comorians to try and make it to the nearby overseas French department of Mayotte as refugees. The situation is much like that of the migrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean, as thousands have drowned on the dangerous voyage. For this one there really is no analysis available, it’s just incomprehensible why he would say this.
So there you have it, don’t say you weren’t warned. There are going to be a lot more of these over the next five years.