World News: French President Macron Faces Scrutiny Again Over Pandemic Handling

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Accused of authoritarianism in his handling of the health crisis, French President Macron is facing a growing wave of irritation regarding the methods used. But doesn't the Constitution lend itself to a peremptory and solitary exercise of power?

He has been told and written much about the art of governing. However, if power, a consubstantial element to the art of governing, fascinates, it can also irritate. And it is often in times of crisis that this annoyance reaches its climax, (

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The coronavirus epidemic, which never seems to show any signs of weakness, thus tends to stoke the passions that have been unleashed for several weeks against the French executive. Clearly, the president of the Republic, is regularly accused of authoritarianism, even of personal power. The facts may confirm this reality, but only history will know whether this feeling is justified or fantasized.

However, to be complete, at the very least tried, on the reflection or analysis of a possible personal drift of power, it is not forbidden to look at the Constitution and the history of the latter, illuminating the reproaches made against the executive.

Fact and Fiction

The Fifth Republic, the one that has presided over the destiny of France since 1958, was drafted and designed with a view to being able not exclusively personal, but focused on one man, the President of the Republic.

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Often vilified for its unofficially monarchical character and dressed in republican oripeaux, the Fifth Republic remains the regime that to date, together with the Third Republic, has lasted the longest.

At the same time, it gives the first of us, the President of the Republic, a unique decision-making power, and a set of responsibilities that is just as independent of the weight they generate. However, the question that may arise to date is: In view of the current situation, can the President of the Republic decide on his own? When reading the Constitution, nothing prevents it.

Some argue, however, that the proliferation of defense councils, a form of peremptory masses in which they are assailed, illustrates this personal drift that has become unbearable for some.

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But is this same drift, considered as such, real or supposed, poorly experienced because the health situation imposes the frequent and repeated announcement of presidential decisions, therefore of cyclical essence, or is it, more simply, structural, in which case a regime crisis would seem to be taking shape?

The question cannot call for a clear answer unless it is part of a purely electoralist logic aimed at stigmatizing institutions and its first representative, whatever it may be.

Balance and Rigidity

Accused of authoritarianism, the President of the Republic could also, by multiplying the consultations abound, by taking the time for reflection, be accused of not respecting the spirit of the institutions that call for frank and clear decisions. The balance is therefore precarious and perilous because two diametrically opposed and similarly similarly so-similarly conflicted realities: a defined constitutional framework and an unprecedented health crisis.

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Reconciling the two is a challenge, here or elsewhere. In the end, it appears in the watermark that the culprit of the rising irritation, linked to the deprivation of freedoms, to the succession of ever more restrictive measures all embodied by a single man who decides its contours and application, perhaps finds more its origin in the stiffness and rigidity of our institutions than in the one who applies them.

These could be engaged in a more flexible manner, so as to limit any conflict, and this method is the responsibility of the person in charge, notwithstanding his personal apprehension of the exercise. But the health crisis that will eventually end, must also be the anti-chamber of a reflection to be focused on our institutions, on the character we wish to give them and especially on the methods to be used to apply it as best as possible in a logic of republican concord.


Bio: Olivier Longhi, an opinion columnist for, has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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