Edouard Philippe in Matignon: this “conductor” who has become (too) influential

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Edouard Philippe, this unknown soldier who has made a name for himself. After 1145 days in Matignon, the mayor of Le Havre is no longer this right-wing official without notoriety. At 49, he is a central figure in the French political scene who left the head of government this Friday. Some even see him as an alternative to Emmanuel Macron for 2022.

But how do you define the relationship between the head of state and his prime minister? Marked by many major crises, from that of the Yellow Vests to that of the Covid-19, their collaboration will have, as always, aroused many comments.

Yellow vests and pensions, two points of friction

Arrived at the general surprise in Matignon, this former Areva’s mission was to apply a program he did not design. Reform of the Labor Code, wealth tax, SNCF, evacuation of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, overhaul of the pension system … In the shadow of a Jupiterian presidency, the juppeist (ex-LR ) claims a role of “conductor”, responsible for making the ministers “play together”.

After a generally calm first year, if not successful, the yellow vests crisis gave birth to the first turbulence in the duo. If the demonstrators focus their anger on the presidential figure, the Prime Minister does not come out unscathed. It is he in particular who defends mordicus against the president the imitation of speed on certain roads at 80 km / h. A measure disputed by the demonstrators, in the same way as the carbon tax. In the context of the Great National Debate, Macron himself will open the possibility of adjusting this limitation.

Another odd will divide the two men, this time in winter 2019, around the pension reform. Supporter of a pivotal age measure, Edouard Philippe alienated the CFDT, yet favorable to a retirement by points, and tipped the reformist organization into the camp of opponents. During his year-end vows, Emmanuel Macron urged Edouard Philippe to “find a quick compromise” with the unions, a few days before the record for the longest continuous strike in transport for over 30 years.

Popularities in the opposite direction from the Covid-19

Finally, Edouard Philippe finds salvation in the crisis of the new coronavirus. He saw his popularity rating take off among some French people with his “reassuring” style. While the government, faced with an initial shortage of masks and tests, is accused of mismanaging the crisis, it first argues that masks are useless for the entire population, before acknowledging their need. Then displaying a pedagogical and modest tone to expose the orientations of the executive during strict confinement, it gains in sympathy and legitimacy, to the point of detaching itself from the president’s rating.

The new coronavirus will reveal other signs of fragility in the Elysée-Matignon couple. While we ask him, for example, if he fears the “economic collapse” of the country, a formula used by the Prime Minister, the president will answer from tick to tick: “No, I don’t have those big words. Macron will also push for the reopening of the Puy du Fou park by Philippe de Villiers against the advice of his Prime Minister.

Differences in style, a few points of tension, but a generally cordial collaboration … The transfer of power promises to be appeased. Philippe will now resume his functions as mayor of Le Havre, after being re-elected last Sunday with 59% of the votes in the second round of the municipal elections. It must be formally installed Sunday at 10 am during the municipal council in his fief.


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