For the first time since the beginning of the Vth Republic, a president is not running for a second mandate and in François Hollande’s situation, one would think that his record low popularity score is the reason why. However, many experts, voters and opponents of the candidate are saying that if Emmanuel Macron does become president, it would be like having Hollande for a second term.
Macron was always considered to be Hollande’s protégé ever since he was an advisor for his economic program in 2012. Then he joined the government in August 2014 as Minister of the Economy and the president has always considered the former banker as a loyal member of his government. Except in August 2016, Macron decided to quit the government to dedicate his time to the creation of his new movement En Marche!. He even criticised the socialist government and declared that they only do things halfway.In an article in the newspaper Le Monde and in the book Un président ne devrait pas dire ça, a President shouldn’t say that, by Lhomme and Davet, it was revealed that the president considered the departure as a betrayal. The book also revealed that Hollande thought if the former minister did run for president, he would not gather more than 10% of the votes.
Ever since the beginning of the campaign, other politics, and especially other candidates, have started criticising Macron saying that his policies were in the same continuity of Hollande’s, that his program was not representing the real rupture from the government in power. Some newspapers have titled « Hollande 2: the comeback » and some voters are calling Macron « Emmanuel Hollande » and even accusing the socialist president of being involved in the candidate’s campaign which would explain the rapid increase of his popularity. The argument was used by Marine Le Pen herself during the televised debate may 3rd, when she warned the audience that voting for Macron would be like voting for Hollande again. But, to what extent is Macron similar to François Hollande? The newspaper Le Monde compared the two programmes and found out that 40% of Macron’s policies are almost the same as Hollande’s ones in 2012.
Regarding fiscality, Macron’s programme includes many similarities to Hollande’s policies. He also wants to lower the taxes for middle-class households. However, he wants to start reforming the tax on wealth, which is always a taboo for left-wing politicians. He also believes that workers with small revenues should get more support from the state. The activity bonus, which comes as a complement to all workers who earn less than the minimum wage, will double. The bonus was implemented by Hollande and therefore will just be reinforced by Macron. Similar to Hollande’s policies, he wants to decrease all charges on low incomes.
His public finances policies are also considered to be continuous but for the simple reason that they include decisions that Macron already tried to implement when he was an advisor for Hollande in 2012. His structural reforms are aiming to reduce the public debt more radically. His economical plan to save over €60 billion over five years is not far from the €50 billion Hollande promised.
Regarding the environment Macron, much like Hollande, wants to slowly reduce the part of nuclear energy in the country and replace it with renewable energies.
Finally, the candidate’s security measures are the policies where Macron is the closest to Hollande. He wants to create 15,000 new places in French prisons and 5,000 new coast guards jobs in Europe, two policies that were considered during Hollande’s term. He wants to create a task force for secret services and reform the judiciary system in the same way that Hollande planned on doing in 2012. His take on cyber-security and creating more jobs in that area is also a policy that the president started tackling during his mandate. The only aspect where the two diverge is the treatment of radicalised citizens and their confinement in special detention centres instead of standard prisons.
“I want to create a Task Force that will coordinate the operations with the intelligence services”
The rupture is mostly represented in his economic policies. Macron wants to help small companies, by creation a €10 billion fund and lower the employers’ contribution rates, for example. He wants to reform retirement pensions and get rid of the special regimes so that all citizens get the same treatment. His measures on Europe and its economy are also different in some aspect. Macron wants to give priority to European companies on the European market and create a unique numerical market for the EU.
His chapter on Society measures includes the creation of a Minister of Cult and Secularism, putting the French language as an essential criterion to obtain citizenship. He also wants to reform the institutions, which was a very attractive aspect for his young voters. Macron wants to get rid of special retirement pensions for deputies, compulsory gender parity at any elections and a tougher control and evaluation on the legislative and parliamentary work. But most importantly, he wants to prevent anyone with a criminal record to run for an election in the country.
Finally, the last aspect where the two politicians diverge is the healthcare system. Macron wants to reform the system that would reimburse the totality of certain aspects such as glasses and anything related to dentistry and audition. He also wants to help hospitals by dedicating €5 billion.
“The most urgent project: change the political sphere”
Overall, many of Macron’s policies are about continuing Hollande’s ones from 2012 and would include the ones already established during the mandate. However, Macron does distance himself from the socialist candidate regarding his measures on taxes and support for companies, but also with his modern take on Europe and on the political institutions. The similarities on the economy are not so shocking as Macron was an advisor for Hollande’s government in 2012, as mentioned earlier.
© REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer