The Last President of Europe: Emmanuel Macron’s Race to Revive France and Save the World by William Drozdiak
English | April 28th, 2020 | ISBN: 1541742567 | 256 pages | EPUB | 1.20 MB
A revelatory examination of the global impact of Emmanuel Macron’s tumultuous presidency
A political novice leading a brand new party, in 2017 Emmanuel Macron swept away traditional political forces and emerged as president of France. Almost immediately he realized his task was not only to modernize his country but to save the EU and a crumbling international order. From the decline of NATO, to Russian interference, to the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) protestors, Macron’s term unfolded against a backdrop of social conflict, clashing ambitions, and resurgent big-power rivalries.
In The Last President of Europe, William Drozdiak tells with exclusive inside access the story of Macron’s presidency and the political challenges the French leader continues to face. Macron has ridden a wild rollercoaster of success and failure: he has a unique relationship with Donald Trump, a close-up view of the decline of Angela Merkel, and is both the greatest beneficiary from, and victim of, the chaos of Brexit across the Channel. He is fighting his own populist insurrection in France at the same time as he is trying to defend a system of values that once represented the West but is now under assault from all sides. Together these challenges make Macron the most consequential French leader of modern times, and perhaps the last true champion of the European ideal.
The inauguration day of France’s youngest leader since Napoleon was strangely subdued. There was little of the grandiose pomp and splendor that accompany the passage of power in other capitals. In his first act as commander in chief, Emmanuel Macron perched himself in the back of a camouflage military jeep as he rode up the Champs-Élysées to light a flame in honor of his country’s war dead at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe. He paid a personal visit to a military hospital, where he comforted soldiers wounded in operations in Mali and Afghanistan. That rainy Sunday morning, Macron walked silently past an honor guard on a crimson carpet laid out on the gravel courtyard of the Élysée Palace. He climbed the steps to his new residence, where he was greeted stiffly by outgoing president François Hollande. Macron had served as Hollande’s deputy chief of staff and economy minister before launching a campaign that would betray his mentor and demolish the country’s political establishment.
The two men briefly huddled in private so that Hollande could pass along the “secrets of state,” including launch codes for France’s nuclear arsenal. Under the gold chandeliers in the Salle des Fêtes, about two hundred people had gathered to mark the occasion, including Macron’s wife, Brigitte, her adult children, and members of the new president’s staff. Laurent Fabius, the head of France’s Constitutional Council, administered the oath of office and urged Macron to “calm the anger, repair the wounds, alleviate the doubts, show the road forward and embody the hopes” of all French people.1 Fabius said that Macron fulfilled the dictum of François-René de Chateaubriand, one of France’s greatest writer-philosophers: “To be a man of his country, one must be a man of his times.” In brief remarks, Macron declared that “the world and Europe need a strong France with a sense of its own destiny.” He promised to heal social and economic divisions in French society and restore the self-confidence of a fractured nation plagued by “doubts and fears.” Noting the grim challenges that lay ahead, Macron assured his listeners “that not for a single second did I think that everything changed as if by magic” with his election. He then turned to several close aides and told them that the celebration would be short and swift. “There’s no time to lose,” Macron said. “The work begins tonight.”