What Can We Expect From the Next Season of “The Macron Show”?


In 2021, in anticipation of the coming presidential election, French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign teased the public with a poster presenting him as the hero of a tv series, with the caption “Can’t wait to sign for five more seasons” (each term of the French presidency lasts for five years) that looked like it was pulled straight from Netflix.


Macron’s career does look like it was scripted for a future biopic. It’s the story of a man who ran for only one office in his life – that of president of the republic – and won it, twice. But how will the rest of “The Macron Show” (which, after the president’s election victory last Sunday, has just been renewed) play out? If there’s one thing the past few years have taught us, it’s that trying to predict the course of French politics is a fool’s errand.

If there’s one thing the past few years have taught us, it’s that trying to predict the course of French politics is a fool’s errand.

Does this mean we should give up trying to anticipate what will happen? No. But let’s do so knowing that whatever we come up with will ultimately be political fiction, which is not necessarily useless: maybe if we’re open about the fact that we’re writing the screenplay of the next season of “The Macron Show,” it could actually raise the right questions instead of giving the wrong answers.


In foreign policy, expect France under Macron to continue to be proactive. In the next five years, our hero will cavort with his sidekick, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (who will almost certainly keep his position) on the international stage. From Europe to the Indo-Pacific, he will be everywhere. Expect him to push the EU to more actively ensure its own defense without having to rely on the US’ security blanket. Expect him to expand France’s role in policing the Indo-Pacific. Look forward to beautiful scenes shot in New Caledonia and Tahiti, showing him and his veteran sidekick battling Chinese attempts to cut these islands away from France.

French President Emmanuel Macron (center) with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) arriving at a NATO meeting in Brussels in 2018 (Picture Credit: NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

The results of the recent election will also likely make France’s allies more willing to listen to it. Much of the free world freaked-out over this election, as it realized that France could fall to the far-right, represented by the crypto-fascist Marine Le Pen. Suddenly, foreigners realized how much France matters, how disastrous it would be if a far-right demagogue were to become president and pull it out of NATO and the EU. Whilst Macron’s win over Le Pen this time, by 17 percentage points, was decisive, it was nowhere near as comfortable as his 33-percentage-point victory over her in 2017. While the specter of the far-right has been defeated for now, it’s growing in influence, and will return to haunt future elections. Macron, and future moderate French leaders, could use this to his advantage when negotiating with Washington, London, and Berlin. “It’s my way, or Le Pen’s way,” is a good line he could use at upcoming G7 and EU summits.


Domestically, assuming Macron’s party wins a majority in the upcoming parliamentary elections in June, which is almost always the case when someone decisively wins the presidency in France, our hero will be able to appoint a prime minister of his choice, and so will have considerable freedom to maneuver. But how will he use this freedom?


On the environment, expect Macron to continue to move France away from fossil fuels and towards a mixture of nuclear power and renewables. Expect him to also increase incentives for employers to hire more young people, to court the youth vote: after all, Macron’s “movie poster” also proclaimed him “President of the Youth,” and he is keen to capture the youth vote back from the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. Macron, however, is unlikely to go too far left. France simply lacks the funds to carry out that most popular of leftist wishes – to dramatically raise France’s spending on social benefits – which, at 31% of its GDP, is already the highest amongst OECD countries, and well above the average, at 20%.


This is unlikely to satisfy the French people, but then again, the French people are never satisfied with their president, as evidenced by the fact that Macron is the first French president to be reelected in 20 years (and even then, voters largely weren’t satisfied with him). If we were to write a script depicting the French people as happy with their president, we would be entering the realm of fantasy. French stand-up comedian Haroun, who runs a satirical show on each election, joked this year that “in France we don’t elect a president, we elect a pinata.”

“[I]n France we don’t elect a president, we elect a pinata.”

Macron will certainly try to make them happy – even though he’s limited by the Constitution to two terms as president and will have to step down after this term is up, from Day One, he has always governed with one eye on his legacy. No matter how successful his presidency, he’d consider it an abject failure if an extremist were to take over after him and dismantle his legacy. Expect him, over the next few years, to actively groom a successor. A triumphant season finale to “The Macron Show” will see the president handing the baton of centrism and liberalism to his anointed successor, patting him on the shoulder and saying something like, “It’s all up to you now, kid,” before walking off into the sunset.


If you don’t like this ending, in an interview with Al Jazeera, political scientist Thomas Guenole warned of a dark alternate future, a possible sequel to Macron’s presidency: “Neofascism Is the New Black”.