There is one domain where Macron had raised more optimistic expectations: climate change. In 2018, Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot detailed an ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in accordance with the 2015 Paris Agreement. A year later, when it became clear that the administration was not meeting its targets , the popular Mr. Hulot resigned in protest. A year later, Mr. Macron convened the Citizens for Climate Convention to provide proposals to mitigate global warming, which he promised to follow. But his government abandoned some of the most significant ones and diluted others.
However, the most telling sign of Macron’s political drift to the right has been that he placed control of immigration, implicitly from the South, and regulation of religion, implicitly Islam, at the center of his policy.
On immigration, Macron has become increasingly hardline. In the last five years, the unprecedented repression of migrants and refugees on the border with Italy, in informal camps around Paris and above all in the so-called jungles of Calais, from where exiles try to reach Great Britain, has been denounced by human rights. organizations As the incoming president of the European Union, he announced that after the drowning of 27 people in the English Channel in November, border surveillance by the European agency Frontex should be strengthened, without taking into account the increased risk to migrants.
In early 2021, Macron’s parliamentary majority voted for a bill against the alleged “separatism” of Muslims, considered a threat to republican values. Criticized by religious groups and advocacy groups as an attack on civil liberties, this law has already allowed the government to dissolve several non-governmental organizations.
The xenophobic and Islamophobic undertones in Macron’s policies may come as a surprise to a candidate whose electorate is made up primarily of upper- and middle-class voters, as well as retirees for whom immigration and secularism are much lower priorities than purchasing power, health system and environment. But with the leftist candidate of La France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, third in the polls in the first round, Macron seems to have assumed that he would win the presidential election from his right, against Valérie Pécresse de Républicains, Éric Zemmour de Reconquête and, above all, Marine Le Pen de Rassemblement National. second, with an electorate in tune with his nationalist program.
It has been done before. In 2002, Jacques Chirac took a similar approach in a run-off against Jean-Marie Le Pen. Before the vote, Le Pen warned that “voters always prefer the original to the copy.” He was wrong and lost 60 percent. In mid-March, when his daughter Marine was 16 to 22 percent behind Macron in the second round of elections, it seemed his prediction would still fall short. But now, with the difference between the candidates slumping to just 2 percent, it seems close to becoming a reality.
During his 2017 campaign, Macron presented himself as a political innovator and a bulwark against the extreme right. Today he seems to be something very different: a traditional politician who offers a bridge to the extreme right. For a president who promised to remake France in his image, it’s a troubling legacy.