Speech: Macron promises at his inauguration to take action to “unite and pacify” France | International
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Emmanuel Macron has promised this Saturday, in his investiture speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, to “act” to “unite and pacify” the divided and agitated France that on April 24 re-elected him for a second five-year presidential term.
Macron (Amiens, 44 years old) claimed the result as a victory for “a republican and European project” heir to the Enlightenment against the “withdrawal”, the “nationalist temptation” of “demagoguery” and “nostalgia in the past”. And he declared himself determined to govern “with a new method”, more participatory and decentralized, “to build a new productive, social and ecological contract”.
It was a short speech, about ten minutes long, but Macron, the first re-elected president since 2002, had time to explain, if not the letter, then the spirit of the next five years. He does not want, as has happened with predecessors who governed two mandates, that this be one of inertia and inaction.
“Yes, act tirelessly,” he said, “with one goal, that of being a more independent nation, living better and building our French and European responses to the challenges of the century.”
Macron’s announcement of a new method or style sounds like a will to amend. As if saying to his compatriots: the concentration of all power in the Elysee, the president-monarch and verticality are over; the time has come for deliberation, social dialogue and horizontality.
“A new people has entrusted a new president with a new mandate,” Macron said to mark that what is coming now is not more of the same. Although the president clearly defeated his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, at the polls, the elections revealed the deep fractures – social, territorial, demographic – that run through the country. “Uniting and pacifying cannot mean accepting to do nothing else and forgetting our responsibilities.”
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As required by custom and the Constitution, the president of the Constitutional Council, Laurent Fabius, read the results of the second round of the presidential elections on April 24 before the speech, and declared him the winner. It was three minutes past 11 in the morning. The new five-year period, he said, will officially begin on May 14. The veteran Fabius spoke of the “worrying democratic malaise” that is shaking France and, quoting Victor Hugo, recommended: “In these turbulent times, let us be the servants of law and the slaves of duty.”
Afterwards, and following the ceremony, the president received the necklace of Grand Master of the Order of the Legion of honor. And he gave the speech. Solemn. And full of political messages. Because another five-year term begins, but first he must appoint a new prime minister and obtain a parliamentary majority in the legislative elections on June 12 and 19. The ceremony could be understood as a first campaign act, a declaration of intent.
Macron wanted to claim the legitimacy of his victory, questioned – due to the high abstention rate or because many of his voters chose him not because they believed in him, but to curb the extreme right – by some rivals. “I feel indebted to the trust that the French people have given me,” he assured.
And he wanted to remember what, in his opinion, was at stake, and the meaning of his victory against Le Pen: “While many peoples have opted for withdrawal, they have sometimes given in to nationalist temptation, to nostalgia for the past, to the sirens of ideologies that we thought had disappeared in the previous century, the French people chose a clear and explicit project for the future”.
The president spoke of the “tragic wind blowing” in Europe and the world. And he concluded with “the promise to bequeath [a los jóvenes y a los niños] a more habitable planet and a more alive and stronger France”.
The most emotional moment was, at the end of the speech, Macron’s embrace with the parents of Samuel Paty, the high school teacher beheaded by an Islamist in October 2020. After reviewing the troops, 21 cannon shots were fired from the palace of invalids. On Monday he will travel to the European Parliament in Strasbourg and to Berlin.
The investiture, in France, is an essential republican ritual. It is not a popular or massive party like the inauguration of a US president, but an event in a small circle: half a thousand political figures and civil society, and friends and family in the Elysée party room. A second investiture always loses the thrill of novelty: there is no transfer of power, nor does the outgoing president show the incoming president the nuclear codes. It is the party of continuity.
The act was almost as much social as political. The journalists guessed who was who among the bustle of the room. There were the children and grandchildren of Brigitte, the wife of the head of state. Macron’s parents. And former presidents and former rivals François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, side by side, without speaking to each other. Their respective parties, the Socialist and the Conservative, have foundered in these elections.
At the exit, Hollande approached the journalists and declared: “It was a speech about a new method. We hope that this method, which has yet to be defined, will allow the country to regain self-confidence”.
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