“While Emmanuel Macron strives to reinvest the royal ‘vacuum’, Elizabeth II succeeds in making people forget the anachronism of the monarchy”

BRitaniques and French love to play at not understanding each other. At a time when the kingdom is celebrating 70 years of reign of Elizabeth II, many French citizens hide the respect, even the admiration they have for the British sovereign behind an amused republican condescension. As if, in the United Kingdom, the survival of the monarchy had not gone hand in hand with the construction of democratic institutions at least as solid as in France. As if, in France, the Republic had purely and simply broken with the monarchical functioning.

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Almost no one in France harbors the slightest nostalgia for the Old Regime. But the way in which the latter continues to impress our imagination and our institutions is fascinating. The institutions of the Ve Republic, explains de Gaulle in his Memories of Hope, were explicitly designed with reference to pre-1789. The founder of our institutions wanted, in 1958, “to endow the State with institutions that make it (…) the stability and continuity of which it has been deprived for one hundred and sixty-nine years”. As if it were a question of retying the threads of a history broken by the Revolution.

Emmanuel Macron announced the color even more clearly by designating the “figure of the king” like the big one ” absent “ of French politics. “I fundamentally think that the French people did not want death [du roi], he explained, in 2015, to the weekly 1. We then tried to reinvest this void, to place other figures there: these are the Napoleonic and Gaullist moments in particular. The rest of the time, French democracy does not fill the space. » Neither Jacques Chirac nor Nicolas Sarkozy attempted to embody the “republican monarchy” instituted in 1958. François Hollande burned his wings claiming to be ” normal “.

An exercise in vertical power

Emmanuel Macron, like François Mitterrand, marks his desire to be part of history and multiplies the references to the monarchical past. He celebrates Christmas 2017 at the Château de Chambord, convenes the Parliament in Congress at Versailles and plays Lully at the Elysée for his investiture ceremony in early May 2022. Without forgetting the essential: an exercise of vertical power marked by relegation intermediary bodies and elected officials, and by seeking a direct link with the population. Practices that nourish monarchical analogies and, in the demonstrations, scathing references to the French Revolution.

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