Last week, the outstanding communication of the President of the French Republic was apparently a success. According to the latest Ifop’s poll published on April 22 by the Journal du Dimanche, Emmanuel Macron progressed by two points with 44% favorable opinion. A rate much higher than those credited to its two predecessors, one year after taking office. Though, it does have several risks.
Outstanding, the sequence of communication was first by its intensity:
On Thursday 12 at 1pm: one hour of interview on TF1
On Sunday 15 in the evening: more than two and a half hours of a real debate on BFM TV, associated with Mediapart and RMC.
On Tuesday 18: a three-hour speech to the European Parliament, including two hours of questions and answers on followed by a citizen convention the same evening, to which must be added muscular exchanges with different categories of protesters the next day in the streets of Saint-Dié.
Not sure that such presidential interventions took place under the 5th Republic.
Outstanding, the sequence has also been shaped:
Being interviewed by the trio BFM-Mediapart-RMC, on TF1, at 1pm and on weekdays, was obviously “disruptive”. However, the originality of the intervention came mainly from the systematic search of the debate. We watched a very pugnacious President, able to answer everything without letting in any assertion that he considers contrary to reality. At the convention citizen, rare moment of calm and consensus, Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly incited potential opponents to speak. In vain. And he seemed to regret it.
Finally, the sequence was outstanding in that it allowed the President to deal with almost all current topics:
from the increase of the CSG for pensioners to the shelling in Syria, through its reform plan of the euro zone and the various ongoing conflicts or sensitive issues: the SNCF, universities, the health sector, the “ZAD” of Notre-Dame-des-Landes …
At the end of this sequence, and waiting for the next, Emmanuel Macron can be delighted to have achieved at least two positive results.
First, he demonstrated that he was not just an omni-communicative but above all omni-competent President. It was striking to see him debating more than two and a half hours on BFM TV and answering everything without consulting notes or cards. From the last statements of Jean-Michel Blanquer to details about every measure, the President is perfectly aware and able to answer without disassembling himself. The same happened at the European Parliament. Emmanuel Macron holds the executive and knows his records, no one can doubt.
Secondly, the President has shown such determination and such commitment that everyone will have understood that the SNCF reform will be completed whatever happens, and that the other “blockers” of any kinds will not achieve their goals. According to the Ifop survey cited above, 78% of French people think that the Government will go through the reform without giving in to the strikers. A gain of 4 points compared to the previous survey. And this is obviously essential because only the belief that they will not win will bring the strikers back to the bargaining table.
A real success for this outstanding communication, which involves no less than two major risks.
The first risk is obvious: by defending government policy with such intensity, the President gives the impression that the Prime Minister and the ministers are not able to do so. He weakens them mechanically and inexorably by repeated and strong speeches. With the risk of a rising of the subjects, a clogging of the files and a growing pressure on the President who can be dangerous in the long term.
The second risk, subtler but no less real, results from a paradox: if it reinforces its personal stature by the repeated demonstration of its exceptional qualities, Emmanuel Macron reduces the presidential function by agreeing to debate with journalists through an equality way (“I am your man” and “dare!”). These journalists do not behave as interviewers but as activists campaining with trade unionists from Sud Rail, which leads him to use the “railway workers who have more rights than others” argument, while he had recognized himself on Sunday night that “it was a mistake to oppose French people between them”.