The commemorative passion of Emmanuel Macron

Analysis. François Mitterrand loved the grandiose. One day in 1989, the former President of the Republic summons Victor Hugo to justify the pomp with which France commemorates the bicentenary of the Revolution that year: “Celebrating big birthdays is preparing for big events. “ Emmanuel Macron is part of this lineage.

On November 11, while he greeted the entry into the Pantheon of the writer Maurice Genevoix and “Those of 14” – a ceremony which he oversaw the making to the end – the Head of State is referred to Jean Jaurès: “The glories of the past are alive only for living countries. “ They serve to cement the present.

“Memory is a material that aims to produce a shared common imagination, which is much lacking today. Until a year ago, no one thought of debunking statues. Offering a common imagination to the French aims to bring them together “, justifies the presidential entourage. So much so that Emmanuel Macron seems at times affected by “commemorating”.

De Gaulle and Mitterrand

After the “memorial roaming”, in 2018, which followed for five days in the footsteps of the fighters of the First World War, the President of the Republic celebrated the year of de Gaulle, in 2020. Three birthdays of the great Charles, all haloed with a round number, were celebrated: that of his birth (130 years), his death (50 years) and the call of June 18 (80 years). For 2021, the Elysée is considering following in the footsteps of François Mitterrand. With three dates, again, in the viewfinder: the 25 years of his death, January 8; the 40th anniversary of his election on May 10; and the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the law abolishing the death penalty on October 9.

“In my personal pantheon, there are de Gaulle and Mitterrand”, assured Emmanuel Macron, a few weeks before his election, in 2017. The former Minister of the Economy likes to draw from this imagination, like an entomologist of the gesture of his predecessors. One day, claiming the legacy of “Resilience” Gaullian. Another, praising the “United France” mitterrandienne and promising to “Change the lives of the French here and now”, in a paraphrase of the song of the Socialist Party of the time.

Emmanuel Macron is a young president – 42 years old – and without (too much) ideological ties. This position gives him flexibility to handle the past. “He has no nostalgia or personal grudge over a number of historical events. It gives a form of freedom or hindsight ”, notes its former Minister of European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau. “I do not belong to a generation which has known colonialism”, often repeats the Head of State, born in 1977, who therefore decided to plunge the French back into this painful chapter.

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