For His Revolution to Succeed, Macron Must Rally the French Youth | Katie Jones

Since the election of Emmanuel Macron in May, change has certainly been brewing in France. During his presidency, a real transformation is expected, if his rhetoric is anything to go by. After all, he is the former Economics Minister who boldly titled his bestselling memoir Revolution. He is the man who founded grassroots movement ‘En Marche’ to challenge the French political scene. Inevitably, vast reform is anticipated and, in reality, is overdue in domains such as education.

Yet, given the conservative nature of the French nation, which has proven to resist widespread reform throughout history, except in times of absolute power (think Napoleon, Charles de Gaulle) how could Macron possibly maximise the impact of his so-called ‘revolution’? If older generations are still trapped in the 20th Century, how will France adapt to 21st Century challenges?

The answer is simple. If Macron wants his revolution to truly succeed, he must rally the youth. They are his greatest ally if he wants to push for genuine change in the metropole. They are also the ones who require change the most, for it is they who must face the consequences of decisions being made today for years to come.

An outstanding problem with this strategy? Macron continues to lack resonance with young French people. Largely, despite whatever he proclaims about a transformation in France, the youth still perceive him to be a politician shaped by an antiquated cookie cutter of the traditional French political establishment. The youth vote of this year’s presidential election was a clear indicator of this: the far-right Front National party of Marine Le Pen and far-left ‘France Unbowed’ movement both received greater support from 18-24 year olds than Macron, according to Bloomberg.

In spite of this, Macron himself appears to realise that change in and for France does indeed lie with the youth. On a symbolic level, he has compiled a notably youthful cabinet which has spurred attention from both national and international media outlets.

More substantially, it is clear that the leader intends to be a friendly figure to young people. He has big ideas concerning educational reform, internships and vocational training. His aim to simplify vocational learning and increase the involvement of employers is set to provoke controversy from the Ministry of Education who will likely see a reduced role in this domain.

Macron evidently knows the importance of shifting influence arising with generational change in France, but how can the youth really help him in his aims?

On a personal level, if Macron wants to remain in office for another term, the youth may be his greatest ally. Should his revolutionary measures tempt 18-24 year olds away from France Unbowed, he will be in a considerably stronger position to reclaim his presidential title. In the senate elections this year, which were decided by the indirect suffrage of 75,000 ‘electors’, rather than the nation, Macron’s En Marche movement gained a piecemeal 21 seats in total. Of course, his previous landmark win in the National Assembly, voted for by the people themselves, is arguably what matters more, based on France’s legislative structure.

Nonetheless, it would not hurt for the leader to further consolidate influence over a wider range of voters before the next election. The youth would be a great ally here. To achieve this, Macron must prove that he is not simply another product of the French political establishment.

What of his vision for France? Could the youth be an asset in pushing for this? Of course they can. If Macron follows through with his visionary proposals for education, the youth will be an even greater asset in transforming and strengthening 21st Century France, clearly complementing the leader’s vision, itself.

Should Macron prove that he is not a standard French politician, the youth are the group most likely to be receptive to his reforms and encourage their success. This will largely be due to increasing open-mindedness in France, arising with generational change. That said, supporting Macron’s proposals lies parallel with self interest for young people.

Beyond doubt, the educational structure of the nation begs for reform: a hostile learning environment where punishment is key and reward is out of reach; a non-selective university system with a failure rate as high as 60% and youth unemployment approaching 25% all contribute to one big shambles.

Through strenuously focusing on transforming France’s education system, the President will be helping out his greatest allies, whilst enhancing the nation’s chances for future success and international competitiveness.

Ultimately, Macron has a revolutionary vision and the youth need this to be a success for the future of their nation. Older generations have remained passive, at best, concerning Macron’s big ideas so it lies with the youth to support and encourage them.

For France’s sake, Macron must prove to young people that he is different, that he does not fit the establishmentarian mould. It is only through truly appealing to younger generations that Macron’s vision will fully flourish and France will be strengthened.

The youth and Macron can help each other through exchanging mutual support, recognition and encouragement. These elements will contribute to a promising, mutually beneficial relationship. A shared ambition for transformation in France will occur.#

Katie Jones is a write for Student Voices

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For His Revolution to Succeed, Macron Must Rally the French Youth | Katie Jones For His Revolution to Succeed, Macron Must Rally the French Youth | Katie Jones Reviewed by Student Voices on 23:17 Rating: 5

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