French president Emmanuel Macron has declared he will govern France like Jupiter, the Roman king of the gods, shortly after officials told the media his thought process was “too complex” for journalists to understand.
Summoning over 900 politicians from both houses of the French parliament to a rare Congress at the palace of Louis XIV – the ‘Sun King’ – in Versailles, he threatened to overrule lawmakers with a referendum if they try to frustrate the “reforms” he wishes to impose on the legislature. Such assemblies are usually reserved for times of national crisis.
Reuters reports him as saying he desires to reign as a “Jupiterian” president – “a remote, dignified figure, like the Roman god of gods, who weighs his rare pronouncements carefully”.
This bizarre statement of intent comes just days after Macron scrapped the president’s traditional Bastille Day press conference, with an Elysée Palace official claiming the 39-year-old’s thoughts are “too complex” for journalists.
Macron’s “complex thought process lends itself badly to the game of question-and-answer with journalists”, the spokesman explained – prompting much mockery in the French press.
Not-making-this-up dept: Macron doesn't do Q&A w/ journalists because his thoughts are much "too complex" – Elysée https://t.co/g3cMxeXPzU
— Pierre Briançon (@pierrebri) June 29, 2017
It has been speculated that Macron is keen to cultivate an aloof, almost imperial aura after being derided as a placeman for the unpopular socialist François Hollande, in whose government he served as economy minister, or as a poodle for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor widely regarded as the European Union’s driving force.
“You are the heir of François Hollande,” scoffed nationalist rival Marine Le Pen during their head-to-head election debate. “We now call you Baby Hollande; Hollande Junior!”
She added that, whatever the outcome of the election, “France will be led by a woman: either me or Mrs. Merkel.”
Much of the commentary on Macron’s alleged natural submissiveness hints at his relationship with his wife – twenty-five years his senior – with Italy’s larger-than-life former president Silvio Berlusconi teasing that he is “a nice lad with a good-looking mum”.
Efforts by the EU loyalist to strengthen his public standing by picking fights with the governments of Central Europe, who have been resolutely defiant in the face of attempts by Brussels to impose compulsory migrant quotas on them, have been less than successful.
Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán gently dismissed him as “a new boy” who had yet to find his feet.
“Macron’s entrance wasn’t too encouraging, as he thought the best way to show friendship was to immediately kick Central European countries. This isn’t how we do things around here, but he’ll soon get to know his way around,” he added.
This is a pretty intense handshake between Macron and Trump pic.twitter.com/nseTdcpXkX
— Colin Jones (@colinjones) May 25, 2017
Posing as the EU’s champion against President Donald Trump has also backfired, with a pointed, public snub of the U.S. leader in favour of Angela Merkel and other Europeans at a NATO summit ending in embarrassment when the 70-year-old manhandled him with a powerful handshake.
Macron was clearly rattled by the exchange, granting a brief interview with journalists in order to emphasise that another handshake with President Trump – in which the Frenchman clung on for dear life – was a “moment of truth” in which he supposedly demonstrated that he “would not make small concessions, not even symbolic ones”.