Saturday, October 1

Macron gives way in the ‘war of the flags’ at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris




The first national tragicomedy of the year that begins has illuminated the spectacular emergence of a nationalist and ultra-nationalist France, hostile to the European Union (EU) and Emmanuel Macronwhose defenders, from the extreme left to the extreme right, claim to defend a “national sovereignty” that they consider to be “threatened.”

Coinciding with the start of the French presidency of the EU, Macron decided to replace the French flag with the EU flag, for twenty-four hours, at the Parisian Arc de Triomphe, in order to send a “striking symbolic” message. “It is about starting the French presidency of the EU with a detail that symbolizes the double national and European commitment,” began declaring an official spokesman for the presidency.

After the scheduled twenty-four hours, the EU flag was removed from the Arc de Triomphe. But the “striking symbolic” gesture was transformed into a battlefield.

To the extreme right and the extreme left, Marine Le Pen and Jean Luc Mélenchon, shouted “victory!”, Appropriating the withdrawal of the European flag, claiming that the Government had bowed to their ultra-patriotic criticism. The underlying problem and immense depth began to emerge.

Acting President of the EU for six months, a candidate for his own re-election as French head of state, Macron stated in his end-of-year message that 2022 will be the year of the international “great turn” of a “Europe fully sovereign and master of your destiny”. Europeanist message received to the left and right with the most extreme reservation, provoking a national and nationalist reaction from the majority of the political forces, hostile to a Europe perceived as a threat to ‘national identity’.

Assuming the position of acting president of the EU, Macron summarized his European projects, bogged down, from his speech at the Sorbonne University in September 2017: “The French presidency will present ambitious projects to achieve full sovereignty of Europe, powerful and owner of his destiny in the new world scene ». Macron’s pro-European speech was accompanied by the replacement of the national flag by the European one, which provoked a gale of reactions against Macron and against the EU.

For Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of France Insoumise (FI, far left), Macron’s “ambitions” are pure ultra-capitalist provocation, the opposite of his ultra-nationalist political project: “We must take immediate measures to safeguard the interests of the nation, applying our own political project, with measures to safeguard the sovereignty of the French people ».

For Valerie Pécresse, candidate of the Republicans (LR, right), Macron’s European ambitions and the replacement of the national flag by the European flag, at the Arc de Triomphe, have something of “unbearable provocation”, for these reasons: “Presiding over Europe, Yes; but erase the French identity, no! Macron must begin by restoring the national flag under the Arc de Triomphe: we owe it to all our soldiers who gave their blood for the homeland.

On the extreme right, Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour raised a patriotic cry. «The Arc de Triomphe, with Macron: first packed; then looting and outrage, ”Zemmour declared. Marine Le Pen reacted like this: «Macron’s alleged attachment to France is a lie. And he has dared to end his year-end speech by photographing himself next to the EU flag, which the French people rejected in a referendum in 2005. An umpteenth insult to democracy! “

On the French political scene, only Anne Hidalgo (socialist) and Yahhick Jadot, ecologist, defend pro-European positions, very different from Macronian ambitions. Hidalgo proposes a government of “united left”, far removed from the French reality. Jadot proposes a federal Europe, very far from the European reality.

Beyond the immense underlying problems they pose, Emmanuel Macron’s European ambitions have opened up a far-reaching national debate. The all-out political war of the presidential election campaign in April has fueled a kind of national / nationalist “retreat” that is predictably long-lasting.

With the removal of the EU flag from the Arc de Triomphe, the national flag will return to its historical and traditional position. But the end-of-the-year tragicomedy spectacularly announces one of the great themes of the presidential campaign: the defense of national sovereignty, legal and political, against European sovereignty.

Founding country of the former European Economic Community (EEC), France has been one of the historical pillars of the political construction of Europe and it was, with Germany, one of the engines of all the great continental initiatives: from the election of the European Parliament, through universal suffrage, to the creation of the old European Monetary System (matrix of the euro), Paris was in the very first European line for many decades.

Following this heritage and legacy, nationalist and ultra-nationalist political currents have begun to grow, reluctantly contemplating the evolution of the EU. Emmanuel Macron may be the only defender of a great European ambition for France. Far left and far right are historically hostile to the political construction of Europe. Socialism is sunk. Environmentalists paint little. To the traditional right, Michel Barnier, Former minister, former European commissioner, emeritus advisor to Valérie Pécresse, conservative candidate for head of state, has surprised locals and strangers by defending the supremacy of national law over European law.

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