Emmanuel Macron has promised this Saturday, in his investiture speech, to “act” to “reconcile 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 republican, pro-European and enlightened values against the “nationalist temptation” of “demagoguery” and “withdrawal in the past”. And he declared himself determined to govern “with a new method”, more participatory and decentralized.
It was a short speech, lasting about ten minutes, but Macron, the first president to be re-elected since 2002, had time to make a declaration of intent and set out, if not the letter, then the spirit of the next five years. He does not want, as has happened with his predecessors who governed two mandates, that this be the 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.”
The announcement, by Macron, of a new method of government 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.
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. Fabius spoke of the “worrying democratic malaise” that is shaking France and, quoting Victor Hugo, recommended to the president: “In these turbulent times, let us be the servants of law and the slaves of duty.”
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The investiture, in France, is an essential republican ritual, although it has little to do with the pomp and spectacularity of other inaugural celebrations, such as that of the United States. They are not a popular or massive party, but an event in a small circle: half a thousand political personalities and civil society, and friends and family in the Elysée party room. And a second investiture always loses the thrill of novelty: having been re-elected, there is no transfer of power, nor does the outgoing president show the incoming nuclear codes or the secrets of the engine room of power. It is the party of continuity.
The act was almost as much social as political. The journalists guessed who was who. There were the children and grandchildren of Brigitte, the wife of the head of state. Macron’s parents. The former prime minister, former councilor in Barcelona and now a candidate in the June legislative elections for the Macronist party in the constituency of the “French abroad” for Spain, Portugal and Andorra, Manuel Valls. And former presidents and former rivals François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, side by side, without speaking to each other.