Bruno Le Maire pushes to reconnect with reform to ert his political identity

The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, during a press conference, in Washington, February 7, 2023.

Three days before the last meetings in Saint-Denis, Emmanuel Macron probed, during a dinner of majority executives at the Elysée, Tuesday, November 14, the opinions of all on possible institutional developments. Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says he is in favor of the return of multiple mandates, and opposed to broadening the scope of the referendum, on the menu of discussions. From the other side of the table, the reply from the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, bursts out: “You want to postpone the accumulation of mandates, restrict the referendum… All you have to do is propose the return of the President of the Council and that’s good! », ironically squeaks, the number two in the government, referring his possible rival for 2027 to the institutions of another time. Emmanuel Macron, impive, savors.

Also read the report: Article reserved for our subscribers Bruno Le Maire wants to put an end to “pessimism”

The scene is like Bruno Le Maire’s autumn. After a sluggish return to school, during which he let his young colleagues Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior, and Gabriel Attal, the Minister of Education, take center stage, the Minister of the Economy, 54 years old, gives voice in turn. Poses himself as the whipping father of budgetary orthodoxy, after having distributed the checks. Takes offense at ” gifts “ distributed by Elisabeth Borne to oppositions in the finance bill for 2024. Proposes to reduce the duration of unemployment compensation for those over 55, provoking a united front from the social partners. Invites a thousand mayors to Bercy to tell them that France has “ a crying need for authority “. In short, Bruno Le Maire has undertaken, he told the World, of “shake the coconut tree”.

The objective of full employment set by Emmanuel Macron, “ absolutely strategic for French society”is impossible to achieve without undertaking potentially unpopular structural reforms, he thinks. “Full employment is not 7% ​​unemployment, it’s 5%”, states the minister, while unemployment is stagnating at around 7%, or even rising slightly. Gold “it won’t come by itself, you have to put coal back into the machine”. At a time when Emmanuel Macron is looking for a second wind, only a year and a half after the start of his second term, Bruno Le Maire urges him to “ hold the line of transformation ”, instead of confining oneself to the simple ” management “.

“We have to keep pedaling”

If he makes this proactive, even alarmist, speech, it is because the minister is aware of nothing, he explains, of this “temptation, which affects all governments and all majorities”to lift the pen once the first results have been obtained. “The most natural inclination, once we have made courageous reforms, is to say to ourselves: we will stop there”philosopher the former deputy Les Républicains de l’Eure, from the top of his “twenty years of political experience”.

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