Macron finds elitist tag hard to shake, but he has the upper hand

Much of France is sceptical, but a divided opposition makes the president’s aim of disrupting traditional politics easier

Sipping coffee at dawn near the French parliament, Adrien Taquet pondered his friend Emmanuel Macron’s first six months as president. Just as the centrist, pro-business French leader prefers the word “transformation” to the loaded word “reform” – which has always sparked political rows in France – Taquet said the pace of “structural change” in France was so “staggering”, it might seem hard to follow. “As soon as we finish one thing, there are already another two things on the table,” he smiled.

He reeled off three major legislative changes: a law to clean up politics including banning MPs from hiring family members, flagship reforms to loosen France’s complex labour code, making it easier to hire and fire – the biggest change in employment law in 50 years – and controversial anti-terror legislation that allowed Macron to end France’s two-year state of emergency by writing hardline special policing powers into law.

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