Emmanuel Macron’s turn in the face of the judiciary

Should this be seen as the result of the test of power, of a doctrinal turn, or more simply of a change in the political context? During the 2017 presidential campaign, Emmanuel Macron presented himself to the French as the candidate of the “Probity” and some “Transparency”. While his right-wing competitor, François Fillon, indicted for the fictitious employment of his wife, considered himself the victim of a “Political assassination” – even a “Conspiracy” -, according to his entourage, the former economy minister was falsely registering against this challenge to the judiciary. Such an attitude, he believed, nurtured “Democratic leprosy” and the “Distrust” from citizens to public officials. “Let’s not talk about each other of conspiracy, let’s give transparency”, replied Mr. Macron during a meeting in Lyon on February 4, 2017.

A five-year term later, the one who became head of state, however, in turn engaged in a standoff with the magistrates. The latter, according to some macronists, would indeed be guilty of “Judicialize” political life by opening proceedings against ministers, or by scrutinizing the action of the executive. “This judicialization exists, everyone is talking about it”, thus ensured the keeper of the seals, Eric Dupond-Moretti, Tuesday, October 19 on France Inter. The ex-lawyer has himself been indicted since July for “illegal taking of interests”. At issue: his choice to open, in 2020, an administrative investigation against three magistrates in a case which concerned his former activities. The minister has since been a victim of a ” war “ and a “Union settling of accounts”. A rhetoric which is not unlike that of the Fillonist camp, or those close to Nicolas Sarkozy in other circumstances.

If he uses more chosen words, Emmanuel Macron is just as sharp on the merits. “Justice is an authority, not a power”, underlined the President of the Republic, on July 13, in camera of the Council of Ministers to justify the maintenance in the government of Mr. Dupond-Moretti despite his indictment. “It is not for representatives of judicial unions to decide who is or is not a member of a government”, justified his political advisor, the MEP Stéphane Séjourné.

Assumed balance of power

The Head of State had the opportunity to explain his position on Monday at the launch, in Poitiers, of the States General of Justice. In its sights, this time: the investigation carried out by the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) on the action of the executive in the management of the crisis due to Covid-19. This procedure resulted in several searches of ministers or ex-ministers, as well as the indictment of the former holder of the health portfolio, Agnès Buzyn, for “endangering the lives of others”. “When officials – ministers, civil servants, elected officials – find themselves cited in a procedure for a crisis which is still ongoing, we are far from appeasement and balance ”, lambasted Emmanuel Macron, before continuing by opposing the legitimacy of judges to that of voters. “We must never fall into a situation of public powerlessness, nor withdraw from the people the choices which, in a democracy, must ultimately always be theirs”, he said.

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