Saturday, June 3

France heads the last week of the electoral campaign with Macron losing advantage

Will Emmanuel Macron suffer an unexpected comeback in the French presidential the same way PSG does in the Champions League? The defeat of the French president in the elections of April 10 and 24 (second round) seems an unlikely hypothesis. But his position as favorite candidate has run out of steam. A survey by the Elabe institute already warned on Wednesday that the centrist leader could win with only 52.5% of the votes in a hypothetical second round against the ultra Marine Le Pen. His margin is also shrinking with respect to the rebellious Jean-Luc Mélenchon (ecosocialist), the other main contender to reach the electoral final.

The Macronist hope that these elections would be a pure formality in the midst of an effect of “national unity” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine has ceased to rise. In the final stretch, the centrist leader faces a series of obstacles, such as the “McKinsey case”the economic effects of the war —are felt more and more in the pockets of the modest French after inflation has already reached 4.5%— and the lack of dynamism of Macron’s minimalist campaign.

Criticism for the growing weight of consultancies in the administration

From Twitter to the press, rivers of ink have flowed in the last week with the name of the consulting firm McKinsey. On March 17, a Senate commission published a report in which it denounced that the State’s spending destined to the consultancies had more than doubled between 2018 and 2021. He alerted the “tentacle phenomenon” of these companies within the Administration. And since then this controversy has not stopped growing.

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The senators not only criticized that the Administration spent in 2021 more than 1,000 million euros in this type of company, but they also answered the usefulness of these reports, often empty of content. In addition, they revealed that one of the main companies of this type, the American multinational McKinsey, had not paid taxes in France between 2011 and 2020.

“If there is evidence of manipulation, let them go to criminal justice!”, assured the president on March 27 in an interview for the France 3 network. Despite this vehement defense, the foam of the “McKinsey case”, baptized well because of the preponderant role that this consultancy had in the pandemic management and by the close ties of some of its leaders with Macron. Two ministers ignored government discretion during the campaign and called a press conference on Wednesday to tackle this controversy, which illustrates one of the main weaknesses of macronismo: the conflicts of interest between the public and private sectors.

“A delicate situation” for Macron

“This is a sensitive issue for Macron, as it brings him back to his image of ‘president of the rich’, far from the reality of the French”, political scientist Luc Rouban considers in statements to El Periódico. From the Valéry Giscard d’Estaing diamond case in 1981 to the fictitious jobs of the wife and children of Francois Fillonthe revelation of affair It is common in presidential campaigns. A documentary from the French portal Off Investigationfounded by a former Canal + journalist, also published a report this week in which the possibility was raised that the centrist leader had deposited part of the millionaire commissions he earned when he worked as a business banker at Rothschild in a tax haven.

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The president’s entourage is confident that all this will not come out of the Twitter bubble. Beyond their possible legal, moral or political responsibility, these possible scandals represent explosive material during the electoral period. They come at a time when Macron’s popularity surge from the Russian invasion is fading. “Surely, he underestimated the effects of the war on the purchasing power -main concern of the French- and that is benefiting Le Pen”, and to a lesser extent also Mélenchon, recalls Rouban, a researcher at the CNRS and at Sciences Po Paris.

“The current situation is delicate, since we feel how people are less and less interested in the elections,” acknowledges the Macronist militant Hervé Gérard, municipal councilor in the city of Niort, considered one of the president’s electoral fiefdoms. “I would have liked him to get involved earlier,” he adds about the candidate Macron, who celebrated his single rally this Saturday in Paris. Perhaps poorly advised, the centrist leader opted for a conservative campaign, in which he assumed the minimum risk. Despite his reputation as a good speaker, he refused to participate in the television debates prior to the vote on April 10. A catenaccio which doesn’t seem to give you the expected results.

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