Emmanuel Macron warned the French about the “end of abundance” and the upcoming difficult winter for France. The president’s pessimistic speech was criticized as a dismissive attitude towards the poor, who had already made sacrifices.
President Macron told the French they were facing more casualties and what he called “the end of afflue-nce” at the first cabinet m-eeting after the summer break.
The head of the Fifth Republic, speaking to ministers at the Elysee Palace, said the country is at a “tipping point” and will face a difficult winter and a new era of instability brought on by climate change and the conflict in Ukraine, The Guardian writes.
Macron’s cautionary and somber speech was immediately criticized by opponents as ill-conceived and dismissive of the country’s unemployed and poor, who had already made sacrifices. The French President’s dire forecasts came after a summer of extreme temperatures, widespread wildfires, drought and storms.
Macron said that France and the French are going through a series of crises, “each worse than the last.”
“What we are now experiencing serves as a kind of tipping point or great shock … we are experiencing the end of what could seem like an era of abundance … the end of the abundance of technology products that seemed always available … the end of the abundance of land and materials, including water, “stated Macron.
The French head of state thanked “our firefighters, elected representatives and farmers who have faced fires and drought.”
Macron added that France, Europe and the world may have been too “indifferent” to threats to democracy and human rights, as well as to “the rise of illiberal regimes and the strengthening of authoritarian regimes.”
“This review that I am giving, the end of exuberance, the end of carelessness, the end of speculation is ultimately a tipping point that we are going through that could cause our citizens great anxiety,” he said.
Commenting on the president’s speech, Philippe Martinez, general secretary of the powerful CGT trade union, said that Macron’s comments were “inappropriate” and that many in France had never known abundance.
“When we talk about the end of abundance, I think of the millions of unemployed, millions of those who are in a difficult situation. For many French people, hard times have already come, the sacrifices have already been made, ”says Martinez.
The president’s warnings came as it emerged that dividends paid out by major French companies hit a record €44bn in the second quarter of 2022 in what was described as exceptional earnings in 2021. The economic newspaper Les Echos reported that the dividend payout rose by almost 33% compared to the previous year and was the result of an economic recovery after the pandemic.
Macron was re-elected president for a second five-year term in April but lost his parliamentary majority in the subsequent general election.
The president, who is leaving on Thursday for a three-day visit to Algeria, told ministers that measures to combat the climate emergency and its impacts, as well as those focused on renewable energy, should be a priority this fall, and he called for a “universal mobilization.”
Prime Minister Elisabeth Born is expected to detail the new measures at the an-nual conference hosted by Medef, the French employers’ federation, next Monday.
Macron said earlier this month that this autumn and winter will be difficult for the country, with the risk of energy shortages and high prices as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, and this is the “price of freedom.”
Critics have accused the president of not setting a clear goal for his second term. His government will need to forge alliances to get the 2023 budget through a divided parliament. The government is also facing a struggle to pass campaign manifesto measures, including changes to the unemployment and pension system that would put it on a path of direct confrontation with the left and unions.
Bernard Sananes of the Elabe polls says Macron is preparing the French for bad times. “This is a kind of political expectation. If the situation does become difficult, the president should communicate this in adva-nce so that it does not appe-ar that events have taken him and his government by surprise,” Sananes told AFP.
French Communist Party leader Fabien Roussel, a presidential candidate earlier this year, expressed surprise at Macron’s speech: “Incredible! As if the Fren-ch did not worry about anything and pampered themselves. We have 10 million poor people in France beca-use of the negligence of Pr-esident Macron and the pre-datory behavior of the rich.”