Macron tries to get French to appreciate wealth

President E. Macron

President Emmanuel Macron has made good on his promise to reform France’s employment laws. However, as has reported, fulfilling that promise has made him very unpopular.

According to Adam Plowright, who has just written a book entitled “The French Exception: Emmanuel Macron – The Extraordinary Rise and Risk,” Macron’s popularity has declined because the French do not admire wealth like people in many other countries do.

As sociologist Janine Mossuz-Lavau points out, there is a cultural taboo in France when it comes to talking about money. A poll conducted by the Odoxa Institute showed the French find it far more acceptable to talk about sex than about money.

This partially explains why Macron has been derisively referred to as “hero to the rich” by Libération, and as “the president of millionaires” by union leaders.

Plowright said, "Macron wants the French to celebrate wealth and he wants business leaders in France to be celebrated and looked up to as role models.”

However, it will be a challenge for Macron to get the French to buy that mindset. One of the French Republic’s founding principles is égalité, and French culture – with its disparate influences of Catholicism and Marxism – innately distrusts businesspeople and the wealthy.

Macron is a wealthy man. Before entering politics, he made a fortune in banking. He claims many of his proposed policies will help reduce the French unemployment rate, stop French millionaires from leaving the country and depriving it of tax revenue, and position France to do well after Brexit is finalized.

Plowright says that, whatever Macron’s intentions, he has rubbed many of the French people, who come from backgrounds radically different from his own, the wrong way. Macron has made multiple comments about the less fortunate that have been perceived as insensitive.

The French people have a long memory – Nicolas Sarkozy was never able to make people forget he once said, “piss off, you idiot” to a farmer.

Sarkozy was also dubbed a “president of the rich.” He was voted out after a single term.

However, Plowright points out that Macron is merely doing exactly what he said he would do if elected.

“He has a huge opportunity to change France, but that doesn’t mean he won’t face resistance,” he said.

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