Category Archives: France

“Can I have your signature?” – Comparing requirements for registering presidential candidates in Europe

Every so often, I receive a message from colleagues asking whether I know of a comparative overview on a particular aspect of presidential politics. I have previously written blog posts with such overviews on presidential term length and possibilities of re-election, salaries of West European and Central East European presidents, and the question of who acts as head of state when presidents are incapacitated or resign. Three weeks ago, I received another enquiry asking about the number of signatures required to register as a presidential candidate in popular presidential election – prompted by the seemingly high number of 200,000 signatures in Romania (notably, this threshold also applies to European elections, a fact highlighted by the extra-parliamentary “Democracy and Solidarity Party – DEMOS” earlier this year).

Electoral laws often specify various requirements for candidates, such as age, no criminal record, residency etc, but these all relate to the candidacy of a person as such, not its registration with authorities. To register one’s candidacy for president, collecting a certain number of supporting signatures arguably presents the most common requirement (closely followed by making a – often non-refundable – deposit to the Electoral Commission). Collecting signatures helps to prove that a candidate is a serious contender and can attract at least a minimum of support. In this post, I hence provide an overview and assessment of the signature requirements for presidential candidates in Europe and beyond.

The Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters of the Venice Commission (an advisory body to the Council of Europe on matters of Constitutional Law) states that “The law should not require collection of the signatures of more than 1% of voters in the constituency concerned” (Part I, Chapter 1.3, point ii) – hence, for popular presidential elections signatures of no more than 1% of all registered voters in the whole country should be required for registration. Overall, all but three European nations adhere to this recommendation, albeit still showing considerable variation.

On average, a little less than half a percent of registered voters (0.454%) is required to register a candidacy as presidential candidate in European semipresidential and presidential republics. Requirements range from 0.016% (i.e. 100) of registered voters in Cyprus to 1.5% in Montenegro, yet the median of 0.396% (BiH Republika Srbska) illustrates that most countries can be found towards the bottom of the range. Three countries stand out because they do not foresee any kind of public signature collection: Ukraine abolished any kind of signature requirement in 2009 (it had previously been 500,000 in 2004 and 1m in 1999).  In contrast, presidential hopefuls in France and Ireland need to collect support from public officials – 500 signatures of elected public officials in France, and nomination by 20 members of parliament or four county or city councils in Ireland. Four other countries also have rules for the nomination of candidates by legislators – such rules generally benefit established parties.

Romania indeed belongs to countries with the highest signature requirements in European comparison, yet it is still surpassed by Montenegro. While Romania only exceeds the Council of Europe recommendation by 0.1% (ca. 17,300 signatures), this margin would already be enough to register a candidate in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, or Portugal! The Montenegrin electoral law actually specifies that signatures equal to 1.5% of registered need to be collected in order to register a candidate for the presidency (and has subsequently been the subject of repeated criticism by the Venice Commission and the OSCE).

What do these numbers mean for parties, candidates and competition in popular presidential elections? Generally, higher signature requirements increase entry costs for political newcomers and can be a serious impediment to democratic competition. Candidates nominated by political parties can rely on established organisations for the collection of signature (often under a tight deadline) as well as for the financing of such an exercise – even in smaller countries with lower requirements, a small army of volunteers is needed. Given that signatures can later be ruled invalid for various reasons, candidates actually need to collect more signatures than the official number to prepared for this eventuality. Regulations that allow (or restrict) the nomination of candidates by a handful of members of parliament (e.g. in the Czech Republic, Ireland, or Slovakia), also benefit established parties and provide obstacles to independents and newcomers. Nevertheless, a greater number of candidates in direct presidential elections does not automatically equal a better or more democratic process. In the prevalent two-round run-off systems (only Ireland used preference voting and Iceland a plurality run-off), a highly fragmented candidate field in the first round can easily lead to the elimination of a Pareto-winner as well as voter dissatisfaction if a large proportion of voters do not see their preferred candidate advance to the second round.

When it comes to signatures for registering a presidential candidate, there is no objective “magic number”; yet, when looking at the various requirements across Europe, it would likely be around 0.4% of registered voters.

France: the “yellow vests” and the rise of anti-presidentialism

This is a guest post by Jean-Louis Thiébault, emeritus professor of political science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lille, France.

On November 17, 2018, a demonstration of the so-called “yellow vests” (which must be carried in French cars in case of accidents) took place on the Champs-Elysees and some demonstrators attempted to go to the Elysee Palace before being blocked by police. The protesters demanded the dismissal of the president. France was, consequently, shaken by violent protests.[1] The “yellow vests” first protested against rising fuel taxes, then they called for a more radical change: lower taxes, higher wages, … The slogan that the protesters chant the strongest and most often concerns the reinstatement of the wealth tax. Finally, they presented a whole series of institutional demands that constitute a questioning of the French semi-presidential system that has existed since 1958.

We will first look at the basic characteristics of the French semi-presidential regime, before analyzing the events that led to the fall of President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity and the questioning of his person. A movement of criticism of representative democracy then developed in the “yellow vests”, demonstrating a willingness to set up mechanisms for popular consultation, upsetting the balance of the French presidential system. The social and political crisis of the “yellow vests” could therefore lead to a crisis of regime.         

1. The main characteristics of the French semi-presidential regime

France has a semi-presidential regime whose main characteristics are the strong legitimacy given to the president by his election with direct universal suffrage and the support of a homogeneous and stable parliamentary majority.

Indeed, it was mainly the election of the president by universal suffrage in 1962, which gave the president a strong democratic legitimacy, that allowed him to concentrate many powers in his hands. General de Gaulle then wanted to reinforce his legitimacy, but especially that of his successors, by inscribing in the constitution the election of the president with direct universal suffrage rather than by a college of elected grand electors as in 1958. He decided to organize the vote of this constitutional text by referendum without first submitting it to the parliament. The election of the president by universal suffrage was widely approved (62.25% of the votes). The presidential election becomes, therefore, the determining election of the French political life. Being the only one to really count, the political parties then no other objective than to elect a president. The use of universal suffrage has thus radically polarized political life – since 1962 the different parties merged into two coalitions: right versus left.

The role of the presidents is also strengthened through stable and disciplined parliamentary majorities. This support was reinforced by the replacement of the seven-year presidential term by a five-year term in 2000 and the inversion of the electoral calendar.[2] In the referendum on the presidential term in September 2000 voters voted “yes” by a large majority (73.21% of the votes), but in a context of high abstention (69.81%). In 2001, the parliament voted to reverse the electoral calendar so that the legislative elections were held after the presidential election. The purpose of this inversion is to match the two mandates to avoid cohabitation. The purpose of inverting the calendars was to introduce concurrent mandates, thus avoiding cohabitation and giving the president a coherent parliamentary majority – in contrast to the parliamentary dissolutions made in the wake of the presidential elections of 1981 and 1988. In 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017, the legislative elections, with the amplifying effect of majority voting, corresponded to this logic.[3] Indeed, this accentuation of the “factual majority” increases the pre-eminence of the presidency even more, but also its influence in the daily governmental practice.

Some modifications of the constitution have softened certain aspects of the presidential function. Nevertheless, its quasi-monarchical character remains and has even been accentuated since 2002 by the implementation of this dual decision to establish the five-year term and to reverse the electoral calendar. The most recent presidents have benefited from these assets, even if François Hollande had wished to exercise a “normal presidency” and Nicolas Sarkozy developed a “hyper-presidential” conception of institutions. As for Emmanuel Macron, he conceptualized a vigorous approach to the presidential function. He himself theorized his function under the name of “jupiterian president”.[4]

From general de Gaulle to Emmanuel Macron, all presidents have developed a very presidentialist conception of the political regime. The presidential omnipotence around a head of state, who alone embodies political power, is considered as an essential source of the current malaise. Every five years, the presidential election creates strong expectations around a politician installed as a quasi-monarch. A year later, systematically, disenchantment arrives. Since the introduction of the five-year term, no president has managed to get re-elected. The five-year term, combined with the inversion of the electoral calendar, profoundly changed the political life and it completely changed the balance between the president, the government, and the parliament as it resulted from the 1958 constitution.

The presidential omnipotence, around a president, who alone embodies political power, is considered as an essential source of the current malaise. The satisfaction score attributed to the president with respect to the exercise of power tends to diminish over time. The lowest satisfaction score experienced by de Gaulle is 42%; Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s lowest level was 35%; François Mitterrand at 22%; François Hollande at 13%. Emmanuel Macron now has a 23% approval rating. The “yellow vests” illustrate the distrust of the presidential omnipotence. Their enemy is the president.

2. The hatred of Emmanuel Macron

The recent movement of “yellow vests” is the result of ten years of social stagnation since the 2008 crisis. It led to a background of social dissatisfaction and disregard for the political regime and its representatives. Yet, on the other hand, it is the person of the president who is at the centre of all recriminations. The president’s person is rejected. Elected democratically and legally, the president is the subject of a lawsuit in illegitimacy.[5]

The heterogeneous group that constitutes the “yellow vests” is bound thanks to a common cement: the hatred of Emmanuel Macron. One of the red threads during the days of mobilization appeared to be the focus of resentment on the president himself, who was known to be unpopular and who was found hated. It is this factor that best sums up feeling towards the president among the protesters. This personal dimension is an aggravating factor in this crisis. Under the 5th Republic, the president usually suffers a rapid wear after his accession to power. The predecessors of Emmanuel Macron (Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande) have governed only one mandate. But the visceral rejection of the current president and verbal and physical violence in the streets put his presidency in jeopardy.

Since the slogans poured by thousands on social networks to calls for murder through insults, Emmanuel Macron proves to be the target of a hatred, a violence sometimes unheard.[6] The personality of Emmanuel Macron focuses the animosity of the demonstrators. He is the target of many critics. They reproach him for an exercise of what is deemed monarchical power, a neoliberal economic policy, links with finance. It must be said that in the way he has held office for a year and a half, he has offered himself to popular anger. Since his election, the president has indeed not allowed any other major political figure at his side, and particularly not the prime minister or the ministers. In the current social crisis, the denunciation of the “little presidential sentences” was very important. They are one of the vectors of the transition from unpopularity to detestation. These words were received as insults.[7]

3. The challenge of representative democracy and anti-presidentialism.

The movement of “yellow vests” showed a deep distrust of representative democracy and the very principle of representation. Representative democracy as it was established in the 20th century is criticized. Some even speak of a democratic exhaustion.[8]

Yet an essential element of the political regime, the election of the president with direct universal suffrage, was not the object of any criticism, except among the proponents of a 6th Republic who wish the return to a more parliamentary set-up of institutions. For a long time, it has been very favourably received and continues, according to opinion polls, to garner the support of a majority of French people – 53% to say they are attached to the election of the president with popular vote (a provision that was however adopted in 1962 by 62.25% of voters). The presidential election remains “a particularly strong democratic moment” for 62% of French people. However, 62% of them also believe that the political regime of the 5th Republic is more likely to favour the excesses of too personalistic power, compared to a parliamentary regime.[9]

The “yellow vests” express a real mistrust of all the traditional representatives, who would no longer be likely to “speak on behalf of the people”. Beyond the president, all elected officials are targeted. They are considered not active enough, disconnected from the everyday life of the French people … The idea of ​​a conflict between the high and the low, the elites and the people, is at the heart of the demands. Beyond these demands, supporters of the social movement join in the rejection of parties, unions, justice, police and all other institutions. They are deeply suspicious of all politicians. Unlike other populist movements, “yellow vests” are not tied to any political party. Some of them come from extreme-right or extreme-left movements, but many are merely anti-politics.[10]

In addition, a demand for participatory democracy has emerged in the claims of “yellow vests”. This situation reflects the crisis of representation that is spreading throughout many Western liberal democracies. This is a profound criticism of the representative regime that we are witnessing in France. Beyond the claims of purchasing power, social justice and taxation, the movement of “yellow vests” leads to a political demand: to give citizens the power to participate directly in the affairs of the country. They intend to exercise this right through the introduction of a “citizens’ initiative referendum”. The “yellow vests” want the people to intervene directly in political life. It would be a real threat against representative institutions. In addition to the possibility given to citizens to propose and repeal laws, the citizens’ initiative referendum should give them the right to dismiss elected representatives, and therefore the president, when the latter do not perform satisfactorily. To be initiated, a sufficient number of signatures must be collected – on social networks, the number of 700,000 signatures is already circulating.

The principle of the referendum has already existed since 1958. Article 11 of the constitution provides that “the President of the Republic, on a recommendation from the government” triggers the referendum. This referendum procedure has been used nine times since 1958 (1961, April 1962, October 1962, 1969, 1992, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2005), but has gradually weakened to the indifference of the voters (introduction of the five-year term in 2000), or that its result was then bypassed (European Constitution in 2005). As soon as he was elected, Jacques Chirac revised the constitution to allow referendums on “reforms relating to the economic, social or environmental policy of the nation, and to the public services contributing thereto”. The constitutional revision of 2008 then added the principle of the “shared initiative referendum”, which is triggered “on the initiative of one fifth of the members of parliament, supported by one tenth of the voters enrolled on the electoral lists”. But this “shared initiative referendum” has never been used. Its organizational conditions are so absolute that it has remained a dead letter.

Procedures of direct democracy risks reducing the omnipotence of the president. It is up to the president, on a proposal from the prime minister or the parliament, to decide to use the traditional form of the referendum provided for in Article 11 of the constitution. The call to the people is an opportunity for the president to draw on the source of legitimacy. General de Gaulle had always accompanied it with the question of confidence. But his successors sought to confer on it the character of a popular vote. Lawyers are divided on the citizens’ initiative referendum. Some of them are in favour,[11] while others are hostile.[12]

Many protesters are seeking the removal of the president. “Macron dismissal” is a slogan that comes back in the manifestations of “yellow vests” or on the Facebook pages of the movement. On the Internet, a petition calling for the dismissal of the president has exceeded hundreds of thousands of signatures. To support their request, many internet users evoke a passage from the constitution: article 68. “The President of the Republic shall not be removed from office during the term thereof on any grounds other than a breach of his duties patently incompatible with his continuing in office”. The removal “shall be proclaimed by the Parliament sitting as  the High Court”, one can read. This impeachment procedure, which has never been used, was introduced in 2007 as a counterpart to the immunity available to the Head of State. At no time, however, is it specified what is the nature of the failings that could lead to the removal of the president. It was notably a former presidential candidate, François Asselineau, who suggested the idea to “yellow vests” to use this article.

In response to all these recriminations, the president opened other chapters. Those in particular that deal with the constitutional reform component, this electoral promise to the realization seriously slowed in recent months. “I want to ask the questions that affect the representation, and the possibility of seeing currents of opinion better understood in their diversity,” said the president, wishing that this project opens in the framework of “great national debate” that he promises all over the country. Behind these words, resurfaced the idea of ​​introducing a proportional representation in the method of election of deputies to the National Assembly.[13] The executive wants to introduce a “dose” of 15% for proportional representation in this election, but the discussions has stumbled for many weeks, especially since the reform also plans to reduce the membership of parliament by 30%. Emmanuel Macron evoked a second track, which is part of the claims of some “yellow vests”: the recognition of the white vote as a vote in its own right. In this regard, the president pleaded for “a more just electoral law” which would result in “the taking into account of the white vote [blanc voting card]”. The measure was not provided for in the current constitutional reform. The white vote broke records in the second round of the May 2017 presidential election, as did the abstention. The President did not take a position, particularly on the issue of the questioning of the election in case of a high white vote. Faced with the motley “yellow vests” movement and officially without spokesperson, Emmanuel Macron also rested the issue of “participation in the debate of citizens not belonging to political parties” and therefore the establishment of a system of “participatory democracy”. The constitutional reform currently under discussion already foresaw opening “institutions to the citizens”, notably through the transformation of the current Economic, Social and Environmental Council, which could enlighten the public authorities on the economic, social and economic issues, organize “public consultation” and receive citizens’ petitions.

The president keeps the advantage because he alone is master of clocks. Then the president plays on all the levers at his disposal: first the “great national debate” he invented to try to get out of the crisis in which he is stuck for almost three months. The exercise must serve as an outlet for the anger but also as a springboard to the aspirations since the President intends to be inspired to build “the new stage of the transformation of the country.” He dismissed the possibility of “playing on the classical institutional keyboard”. According to him, the dissolution of the National Assembly, a negotiation with the social partners or a change of government would be only “expedients” in the face of the social crisis. There remains the hypothesis of a referendum or a meeting of the Congress. The idea of ​​organizing a referendum after the “great national debate” on May 26, 2019, the day of the European elections, was put forward. Emmanuel Macron himself considered this possibility, during an exchange with journalists, on January 31, 2019 at the Elysee Palace.[14]


[1] Arthur Nazaret & David Revault d’Allonnes, “Les dix jours où Macron a tremble”, Journal du Dimanche, 27 January 2019.
[2] Annie Laurent, “Des effets de l’inversion du calendrier électoral sur la fragmentation du système partisan français (1967-2012)”, in Yves Déloye, Alexandre Dézé, Sophie Maurer (eds.), Institutions, élections, opinion. Mélanges en l’honneur de Jean-Luc Parodi. Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2014, 119-138
[3] Bernard Dolez, Annie Laurent, “La logique implacable des élections séquentielles », Revue Politique et Parlementaire, no 1083-1084, 2017, 127-142; Bernard Dolez, Annie Laurent, « Des voix aux sièges. Les élections législatives de 2017”, Revue Française de Science Politique, vol 68, no 5, 2018, 803-819.
[4] Emmanuel Macron used only once the adjective “Jupiterian”, and it was to speak of François Hollande. ‘He does not believe in the ‘Jupiterian president’, he told the weekly Challenges in October 2016. And yet the expression invaded the discursive space as soon as Emmanuel Macron won the presidential election.
[5] Gérard Grunberg, “Les gilets jaunes et la crise du système politique“, Telos blog, 21 November 2018.
[6] Dominique Schnapper, « Emmanuel Macron : pourquoi cette haine ? », Telos, 28 janvier 2019; Alain Duhamel, “Le triomphe de la haine en politique”, Libération, 10 January 2019.
[7] Anne Rosencher, “La haine anti-Macron”, L’Express, 12 December 2018.
[8] Quentin Deluermoz, « Ce mouvement traduit un épuisement démocratique », Le Monde, 16-17 December 2018.
[9] Loris Boichot, “Soixante ans après, la Ve République inspire des sentiments mitigés aux Français”, Le Figaro, 4 October 2018.
[10] Jacques de Saint Victor, Les antipolitiques. Paris: Plon, 2014, 128.
[11] Anne-Marie Le Pourhiet, “Les Français doivent décider eux-mêmes”, Le Figaro, 18 December 2018; Dominique Rousseau, “Le référendum d’initiative citoyenne n’est pas une idée nouvelle”, Le Monde, 19 December 2018.
[12] Olivier Duhamel, “La porte ouverte à toutes les demagogies”, Le Figaro, 18 December 2018 ; Anne Levade, “Le ‘RIC’, une vieille idée toujours abandonee”, L’Express, 19 December 2018; Denys de Béchillon, “La foule est le plus mauvais décideur politique qui soit”, Le Point, 24 January 2019.
[13] Anne Levade, “Proportionnelle: gare aux apprentis sorciers”, Le Monde, 2 Feburary 2019.
[14] Guillaume Tabard, “Le ‘nouveau souffle’ que veut Macron”, Le Figaro, 1 February 2019; Guillaume Tabard, “Et maintenant l’hypothèse du Congrès”, Le Figaro, 7 Feburary 2019.

The Yellow Jerseys and the Macron paradox

This is the first blog for a few months.  Not that there is any diminishing interest in French politics on my part, on the contrary. But the speed of events has proved somewhat overwhelming. Too much has been written about the gilets jaunes, referring to the yellow jerseys that drivers are obliged to carry in their cars and wear in the case of accidents. Too much fake news has circulated on the social networks, feeding the conspiracy theories that have reached the core of the gilets jaunes themselves. The normal mediators – journalists, politicians, academic commentators – have been contested to such an extent that mediation and authoritative interpretation have been challenged as core principles. The degree of routine violence in the streets of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse and other French cities (and even small towns) leaves a bitter taste. The outbreak of open fighting between rival groups of ‘yellow jerseys’ in Lyon, my city for the past five years, demonstrates how the gilets jaunes movement  can be captured by ideologically charged groups of extreme left and extreme right protesters, with only the detestation of the orthodox centre in common. Attempts to force entry into the Elysée and – more recently – the Parliament bear worrying echoes of earlier periods in French history.

The French and foreign press has been replete with articles and special issues attempting to define historical precedents for the gilets jaunes movement and to set the events in historical context. The French weekly Le Point reminded readers, in its edition dated 13th December 2018, that most significant revolutionary events had been sparked by tax protests, including the most famous of them all, the French revolution of 1789. More recent explosions that came to mind were those of May ’68, or the protests of November – December 1995 that brought France to a standstill.  None of these comparisons were entirely satisfactory: for example, the 1968 movement had been one of students and workers,  while the gilet jaunes movement is better described, sociologically,  in terms of the mobilization of the lower middle classes haunted by the fear of downward social mobility, economic hardship and the descent into poverty. One general lesson of the gilets jaunes movement has been the need not to over-interpret the events in relation to past French events, or an ill-defined revolutionary tradition. But there are worrying precursors – and none of them bode well for democratic institutions.

The problem with over-interpreting the gilet jaunes movement lies in the changing and multiform nature of the movement itself. What started as a form of anti-fiscal protest has become a camouflage for the hard right and hard left and the nihilist designs of the casseurs, the specialists in urban disorder. To recall: on 17th November 2018, the gilets jaunes demonstrated for the first time in Paris (and certain cities), in the main peacefully. Successive weeks saw their numbers diminish, but the violence of the conflict increase. The protests spread from central Paris – the object of struggle in the French revolutionary tradition – to small towns and secondary cities.  Multiple interpretations of the gilets jaunes  are, of course, possible: for example, as an anti-fiscal protest, a concrete manifestation of territorial fracture, a quest for new forms of social relations in a world of anomie and alienation (the ‘roundabouts’ replacing the rural cafes), as a camouflage for social disorder and anti-parliamentary protest.

The gilets jaunes movement shook the presidency to its foundation. Many interpretations of the gilets jaunes movement have focussed on the challenge to Macron’s authority- and the fall from grace of an over-arrogant leader, caught up in hubris and undermined by demeaning one-liners. By mid-December 2018, Macron’s poll ratings seemed to be approaching the catastrophic levels of his predecessor Hollande after 18 months in office. But are these interpretations the right ones?  My argument is that the gilets jaunes movement is in the process of demonstrating that Macron is more resilient than recent French Presidents.   The anti-politics movement might have broken out under previous presidents. There are reminiscences of the period back in 1995, when President Chirac campaigned and was elected on the diagnosis of a ‘social fracture’ in France. Chirac set the standard for politicians saying one thing – and doing another. The former Gaullist President had u-turned by October 1995 and lost the election as a result in 1997.  Closer to the present day, Chirac was re-elected in 2002 only because he faced the far-right’s Le Pen on the second round. His successor Sarkozy was forced to change course to deal with the impact of the 2008 economic crisis. Though a highly active reformer, not much remained at the end of his presidency.  President Hollande (2012-2017) suffered almost from day one from his inability to narrate the sense of his presidency,  along with the sense of drift and decline.

In comparison Macron’s leadership has appeared as disruptive (breaking with norms and expectations), robust and, in some senses transformational.  A more modest President Macron might be emerging. Macron has no real choice, if he is to survive and eventually gain a second term. Macron’s reactions to the crisis have been moderate and tempered.  It is still too early to conclude definitively that this crisis is over. But Macron has ridden the wave of unpopularity and is starting to recover. He has demonstrated an astute capacity to respond. The major concessions made in December 2018 certainly had the ring of previous Presidents trying to buy off social discontent by reaching for the cheque book (President Macron announced 10 billion euros of new spending in his December 2018 address to the people). But he has also demonstrated the capacity to stand firm against popular pressure and continue his reform programme. Moreover, his launching of the Great National Debate is an astute move, renewing with the early innovation of the marcheurs, the supporters of Macron who knocked on doors across France to ask electors what their priorities were. The  Great National Debate is opposed by many yellow jerseys – but it is difficult to refuse to engage in public debate when the sense of exclusion was one of the main factors driving the movement in the first place.  Macron has personally demonstrated energy and commitment in animating debates across France: inter alia, with rural mayors in the Lot, with mayors from the Paris suburbs in Seine-St Denis; with young people in the Monts d’Or. Finally, though organised political parties have had great difficulty positioning themselves in relation to gilets jaunes, the two forces to emerge strengthened from the movement are, firstly, the National Rally of Marine Le Pen (former FN), who appears in pole position for the 2019 European election, and – rather paradoxically – Macron himself, as the seriously embittered President recovers from the ashes as a result of skilful manoeuvring and direct contact with the citizens.  The ultimate Macron paradox is that the gilets jaunes movement has undermined what remains of the ‘old’ world (the Republicans, the Socialists, even Mélenchon’s France Unbowed) except the privileged opponent, Marine Le Pen. The game is a dangerous one, but the calculation that a face to face clash between Macron and Marine Le Pen will, once again, turn in favour of the former is a hypothesis that rests on serious foundations.

France – Is President Macron losing the plot?

Is President Macron losing the plot? He had every reason to celebrate the first anniversary of his election as French President in May 2018. At that stage, his poll rankings were consistently better than those of his two immediate predecessors, Hollande and Sarkozy. Since then, however, things have not gone according to plan. In July 2018, the Benalla affair undermined, by association, the claim to ethical integrity and cast unwelcome light on the operation of Macron’s Elysée. After a highly mediatized summer break – peppered with minor controversies that are germane to the ‘peopleisation’ of the presidential office, such as Brigitte Macron’s ordering of a new swimming pool at the Bregançon residence – things began to disconnect in earnest. The lingering presence of the Benalla scandal competed with presidential hesitations, and ministerial resignations to disrupt the carefully-laid plans of the ‘disruptive President’ ( On Macron as a ‘disruptive president’, see Helen Drake’s blog in Political Quartely, 14th September 2018 ‘ Is France having a moment? Emmanuel Macron and the politics of disruption http://www.pqblog.org.uk/2018/09/is-france-having-moment-emmanuel-macron.html).

The Benalla scandal broke in mid-July 2018, when videos of Alexandre Benalla, one of President Macron’s key security advisors, were published by Le Monde, allegedly showing him roughing up a couple of protestors during the 1 May 2018 demonstrations in Paris. The scandal involved, inter alia, the then Interior Minister (Gérard Collomb), the Chief of the Paris Police force (Michel Delpuech), the Head of Macron’s own office (Patrick Stzroda) and some would argue Macron himself. It cast light on the malfunctioning of the security services under Macron and the willingness of his advisors to take the law into their own hands. The scandal was interpreted in the press as highly informative of Macron’s leadership style, based on the primacy of a network of personal loyalties, developed in the main during the 2017 presidential campaign, to the exclusion of professional and political influences from outside the inner circle. One immediate casualty of the Benalla scandal was the postponement of the constitutional reform initially announced for the summer of 2018.

While the Benalla scandal continues to disseminate its own form of poison (in the form of the Senate’s Committee of Inquiry, convoking leading figure to testify, including Benalla himself) Macron’s authority has been undermined by hesitations, resignations and diminishing popularity.

One of Macron’s core claims of the first year in office was to be the maitre des horloges, the timekeeper. President Macron has paid close attention to controlling the agenda and dictating the rhythm, of events. This capacity to control time has been called into question on several occasions since the end of the summer. The claim to exercise decisive, vertical leadership was challenged by the apparent hesitations over whether to go ahead with a ‘pay as you go’ system of withholding taxation at source. Planned during the Hollande presidency, this measure had been postponed for one year by Macron. After ten days or so of apparent hesitation by the President, Prime Minister Philippe confirmed in a televised interview in September that this measure would indeed be implemented. This episode might be interpreted as Macron making sure that the President is seen to be making the final decision (and of ensuring that the Finance ministry respect presidential orders), but the public effect was to cast doubt upon the firm, vertical leadership that had characterized the first year in office.

The sense of drift was aggravated by the October 2018 government re-shuffle, forced on a reluctant Macron by the resignation of Gérard Collomb, Interior minister, former mayor of Lyon and one of Macron’s earliest political sponsors. Coming on the heels of that of Nicolas Hulot, the charismatic Environment minister – who complained of losing out on most policy arbitrations – the Collomb resignation carried a body blow to Macron’s claim to control the rhythm and style of politics. In both cases, the resignations were made public via the media, at times of major inconvenience for the incumbent government. Hulot resigned shortly after President Macron had refused his resignation. Collomb began by making clear his preference to return to Lyon and compete for the townhall after the 2019 European elections, an unsustainable position that provoked public and private criticism and political controversy within the microcosm sometimes known as la Macronie. Collomb was one of the few politicians confident enough to ‘tell the truth’ in relation to Macron himself, accusing the President of ‘hubris’ in an interview published while he was still Interior minister.

Whether deliberately designed to damage Macron or not, Collomb’s resignation added to the sense of drift. The time taken to name a new government – in reality, just over ten days – was modest in relation to Belgian, Spanish, German or Italian examples, but seemed inordinately long to commentators of France’s permanent news programmes, as well as a press that has become surprisingly (excessively?) hostile to Macron. The long drawn out ministerial re-shuffle occasioned by Collomb’s resignation (on 4th October, only resolved with the announcement of the modified Philip 2 government on 16th October) ended with the predictable nomination of Macron loyalist Christophe Castaner as the new Interior Minister and minor movements elsewhere (the resignations of Francoise Nyssen as Culture Minister, for example). While those close to the Prime Minister insisted that the loyalty of Edouard Philipppe to Macron was not in question – that there was ‘not even the beginning of the cigarette paper between him and Macron’, in the celebrated expression – the time taken to create the new government might be interpreted in part as revealing a struggle for influence between the centre-Right around Philippe (pushing for the nomination of Gerard Darminin as Interior minister) and the Elysée, determined to retain as much control as possible over the process. The result was one of the longest episodes of reshuffle in the history of the Fifth Republic for an uncertain result.

At any rate, the polls continue to provide worrying reading for Macron: the Journal du Dimanche of 14th October suggested that Edouard Philippe might be emerging as a more trusted and popular politician than Macron himself. Such lèse-majesté challenges the unwritten rule that the Prime Minister must not overshadow the President in terms of popularity and might sow the seeds of presidential revenge. Finally, Macron’s personal style- whereby the injunction to ‘ tell the truth often takes the form of brutal one-liners – has blurred the cohesion of the political message. Thus, the impact of the publication of well-received health and anti-poverty plans was lessened by presidential phrases on the ‘mad amount of money’ spent on welfare and on the ‘easy’ availability of employment.

Emmanuel Macron is turning to the European level to ease his worries. The French President continues to benefit from considerable prestige in Brussels and elsewhere. His attempt to construct the forthcoming European election contest as one between progressives and conservatives is a way of attempting to Europeanize the successful recipe of the 2017 presidential elections in France. But such an enterprise is fraught with dangers, in Europe as well as in France. Experience suggests that European elections are second order elections fought on domestic issues (though they can have first order consequences). It is far from certain that electors will be willing to follow Macron in terms of advocating a ‘progressive’ Europe. Early polls suggest that Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement national (RN – formerly the Front national, FN) will be a formidable rival in 2019, possibly retaining its position as the first French party. Politicizing the European elections might prove counter-productive.

Macron can rely on two solid underlying reasons for optimism. First, is there really a political alternative? The France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Melenchon is embroiled with party funding scandals, as is Marine le Pen and the RN. The Socialists have just suffered a further split, as a group of left-wing senators and deputies around Senator Marie-Noelle Lienneman and Deputy Emmanuel Maurel has broken off to form a new party. The Republicans (les Républicains) are deeply divided on the leadership of Laurent Wauquiez. The RN is staging somewhat of a recovery, but memories of Marine Le Pen’s catastrophic performance in the debate with Macron in between the two rounds remain vivid. Second, the institutions of the Fifth Republic continue to provide a powerful base upon which to ensure a form of presidential ascendancy.

France – Global Macron

The phrase ‘global Macron’ describes a politician who has fully integrated the global dimension of politics into the construction of his domestic political leadership. A global presence is one of the classic roles of French Presidents, the role model being defined almost seven decades ago by General de Gaulle. The image of the French President as a supra-partisan Republican monarch depends in part on fulfilling the noble functions of the State: representing the unity of the nation abroad and symbolizing national unity during times of war and peace. French Presidents have traditionally claimed a ‘reserved domain’ in foreign policy and defense – and very clearly Macron in no exception. Key foreign and defence policy decisions and initiatives taken are taken at the Elysée, either by Macron or in regular meetings with the chiefs of Staff. Macron assumes the normal function of a French President (the prominent role in European affairs and in defense and security policy, as well as the personalization of relations with foreign leaders such as Donald Trump). The phrase Global Macron also refers to a very personalized foreign policy leadership, involving a downscaling of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Le Drian, who had occupied a much more prominent role as Defense minister under Hollande’s presidency.

From the outset, Macron measured himself up to the great and the good in world politics. Within two months of his election, he had welcomed Russian leader Vladimir Putin with great pomp and ceremony to the Versailles Palace and US President Trump to the July 14th display of military hardware on the Champs-Elysées. During his first year, Macron led formal state visits to China, Algeria, India and the US, inter alia, with the state visits combining diplomacy with trade and cultural promotion. Substantively, also, under Macron, the French President was seen once again to be performing an active role in terms of foreign policy. Amongst the many examples, let us mention the attempts to reaffirm the centrality of an eventual French role as mediator in the Middle East and to mediate the Lebanon/Saudi Arabia crisis in late 2017.

But there are vital differences in relation to his predecessors. First, the generational effect has spilled over from domestic to foreign policy. From the very beginning of his mandate, Macron has been more than a traditional French foreign policy President; he is representative of a Macron brand, admired elsewhere, a model of youthful, reformist and intentional political leadership. Macron symbolizes generational renewal on the international scene as well, the French president being the most prominent of a group of leaders, including Justin Trudeau (amongst others). If political leadership is in part a form of communication, Macron is a past master, an adept of personal stage management, including a much more prominent use of Brigitte Macron and ‘private’ visits such as to the Taj Mahal in India in 2018 (de Royer, 2018). He displays a mastery of tools of modern political communication that surpasses his predecessors: the carefully controlled Twitter account and the You Tube channel, for example. There is an element of celebrity politics; the close collaboration with popular magazines such as Paris March or Vanity Fair is in stark contrast with the distant relationships maintained with more critical media outlets (the quality press, the 24 hour news programmes in particular).

Macron has also challenged elements of the traditional repertoire. French Presidents usually deliberately assume a position of national unity abroad; such was the case for President Hollande, for example, in Mali or Syria. The logic of national consensus usually encourages political leaders to rise above domestic conflict. Not so Macron, who has used distance from home to publicly reiterate the theme of the difficulty of reforming French society, to announce (to the rest of the world) his determination to continue to reform. Herein lies another aspect of the Janus-faced nature of the Macron presidency. It involves a permanent two-way dialogue; playing up domestic reforms in order to strengthen national prestige abroad; using the foreign arena to reinforce the reform message at home, in a permanent movement and transition between levels. Foreign leaders and audiences are invited to be fellow-conspirators in the plot to reform and change French society. Global Macron represents a permanent interaction between personality, position and environment.

There are limits to this enterprise. In practical terms, the frequent absences from France (46 days abroad during the first six months of 2018) produced growing criticism at home. For a system that relies so heavily on personal direction, Macron’s physical absence creates a vacuum (witness the spat between the Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and his associate Gérard Darmintin in relation to welfare spending, or premier Edouard Philippe’s inability to formulate clear policy responses in the physical absence of the President). In terms of substance, too, the ‘en même temps’ doctrine is less easy to export to the global – or even European – stage. The French President seeks to articulate a somewhat contradictory international message, one that is less easy to justify in terms of the domestic register of en même temps. It is caught between the need to promote France as a mover of international free trade and liberalization – the ‘France is Back’ of the 2018 Davos summit – and the domestic agenda of a France that protects against globalization. What passes for creative compromise at home represents a blurring of the message internationally. The positive framing of such a position is that France ‘speaks with everyone’, and is respected as an interlocutor. Under Macron, France has indeed attempted to be more present in the Middle East, in Africa and in Asia. But the balanced stance probably overplays French capacity: visits to Iran and Russia by Foreign Affairs Minister Le Drian, for example, made no difference to the activities of Iran and Russia in Syria. And Macron had little influence over the Turkish leader Recip Erdogen, or the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahou. The en même temps doctrine also appeared to be inconsistently applied faced with authoritarian political leaders, depending on French interests. There was a clear inequality of treatment between Egypt’s General Sissi – a harsh authoritarian leader who had purchased French Rafale planes – and the Turkish leader Erdogen.

And then there is the specific case of US President Trump, where Macron arguably overplayed his hand and discovered the perils of investing too much faith in a ‘special’ personal relationship. All started so well. President Trump’s state visit to France in July 2017 was heavy in state symbolism, the US President declaring himself to be impressed by the July 14th display of military hardware on the Champs-Elysées. French participation in the US-led air strikes in Syria, alongside the UK, confirmed France’s status as a key US ally. The pomp and glory of Macron’s visit to the US in in May 2018 contrasted with the frosty reception received by Chancellor Merkel later on in the same week. And yet this was all to little effect, as Trump successively withdrew the US from Paris climate agreement, and then from the Iran nuclear agreement, before finally imposing trade tariffs on Steel and Aluminium and sparking fears of a global trade war. Macron’s en meme temps was not designed to confront such realist power plays.

France – President Macron’s European Window of Opportunity: Double or Quits?

On the first anniversary of his election as President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron can make a credible claim to have imposed a new style and rhythm on French politics: characterized by a vertical chain of command, a distrust of intermediaries (parties, trade unions, interests) between the President and the People; a robust form of political expression, based on an explicit rejection of left and right and organized political parties, and a routine dismissal of the ‘old world’. The enterprise has encountered a measure of domestic success, it we are to believe Macron’s poll ratings after one year in office (more popular in various surveys at this stage than Sarkozy or Hollande). The drive to reform France domestically during the first year has, in part, been a function of restoring the country’s good name on the European level, by demonstrating the capacity to undertake reforms, to withstand the street and to overcome the usual veto players (the railway strikes are particularly symbolic in this respect). The claim that ‘France is back’ requires the nation getting its own house in order. From the outset, there has been an explicit linkage between domestic and European politics. But are domestic styles and remedies transferable to the European scene? The first year of Macron’s presidency is rather inconclusive in this respect.

That Macron has made an impact is not open to doubt. In recognition of his contribution to the ideal of European Union, he was awarded the prestigious Charlemagne Prize in May 2018, the first French president to have been thus honored since, in 1988, former President Mitterrand and former Chancellor Helmut Kohl were joint recipients of the award. The Charlemagne Prize was awarded mainly in recognition of the 2017 campaign itself, where Macron had been the only candidate explicitly endorsing enhanced European integration. Through his election in May 2017, Macron was widely credited with stemming the rise of populism after the Brexit referendum, at a critical juncture in European history – shortly before Germany, Austria and Italy would each in their own way call into question the reality of a new European consensus. Be that as it may, Macron’s activism in favour of a new European deal contrasted very starkly with the inaction of predecessors Chirac (after the 2005 referendum defeat), Sarkozy and Hollande. Macron’s European vision was articulated in four key speeches: at the Acropolis in Athens in August 2017, at the Sorbonne University, Paris, in September 2017, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg and at Aix-la-Chapelle (Germany) in May 2018.

As in domestic politics, once elected President Macron enjoyed a seemingly favourable concatenation of circumstances in Europe. Quite apart from the moral credit of being elected as the only explicitly pro-European candidate in the French presidential election, Macron’s capacity to articulate a European vision contrasted with that of France’s main neighbors and partners. The self-exile of the UK via the BREXIT process presents challenges and opportunities for France, but in the short run it removed a competitor, notably in the field of European security and defense policy. Macron’s dynamic leadership contrasted with the running out of steam of that of Chancellor Merkel, with the Federal elections of September 2017 being followed by five months of coalition bargaining before a chastened CDU-CSU alliance finally agreed to renew its coalition agreement with the SPD. In some respects, the withering of Angela Merkel, after over a decade of uncontested European leadership, presents challenges for Macron but it also allows the French President to re-claim to a certain leadership role in Europe. The traditional Mediterranean countries that looked to France for leadership, or at least alliance – Spain and Italy – were both in a state of stasis (Rajoy confronted with the Catalan crisis in Spain; Italy having to manage the inconclusive election of March 2018, marked by the rise of the League and the 5 Star movement). Both countries were ill-placed to launch European initiatives. At the same time, the hardening of relations with several of the countries of central and eastern Europe – though dangerous in some respects – provided Macron with an opportunity to deliver on one of his domestic commitments (the reform of the posted workers directive). In this confused European context, Macron diagnosed a window of opportunity for European reform in a manner consistent with French preferences.

His European vision was central to his speech at the Sorbonne (September 26th 2017), renewing with a repertory not really seen since Mitterrand in the 1980s and early 1990s. In his Sorbonne speech, the French President called for a European relaunch, characterized by: a more integrated foreign, security and defense policy; more EU-wide defense procurement; measures to tackle the democratic deficit at the EU level (reforms of the European parliament, the introduction of EU-wide constituencies for the European elections; a new democratic dialogue across Europe); procedures for differentiated integration, where groups of member-states could engage in ‘enhanced cooperation’ in specific areas; and a Europe that ‘protects’ its citizens (reforms of the posted workers’ directive) and its industries (from Chinese assault, notably). The most ambitious EU proposals related to the governance of the euro-zone. Macron argued in favour of the creation of a Euro-zone Super-minister, with a separate dedicated budget, and the transformation of the European Security Mechanism into a fully pledged European Monetary Fund, all to be supervised by a new Euro-zone parliament. These positions were a powerful restatement of French preferences: namely, to ensure political supervision of the governing mechanisms for the euro (the Super-minister), to facilitate transfers from richer countries (especially Germany) to poorer ones, in the name of economic convergence and solidarity, and to endow the EU with new fiscal resources. Macron’s European en même temps reconciled a staunch belief in the merits of European integration with a recognition that it was essential to renew the citizenship compact after a tough decade of economic reform. The substance of the new European grand bargain reflected French preferences in other fields also. His call for there to be a Europe-wide consultative process – the EU conventions, modelled on his own practice (les marcheurs) – was given a polite reception in Brussels and in most European countries.

Ultimately, the limits of the Macron enterprise lay in the need to build the necessary coalitions (first and foremost with Merkel) and to demonstrate the economic success of the French model. In a rather predictable construction, Macron looked to the Franco-German relationship to assume a central role; the terms of which tied the success of the window of opportunity to developments in Germany, France’s main political partner, though figures published recently saw France retroceding to the 4th place in terms of economic exchanges with Germany. For months, the Macron proposals were met with a constrained, polite silence from Germany. After the German elections of September 2017, the CDU-CSU-SPD coalition agreement which eventually emerged (in March 2018) was potentially more favorable to Macron’s grand bargain than the alternative failed Jamaica coalition (the CDU, CSU, FPD and the Greens).

The reception of the Macron agenda in Brussels and other EU capitals has been mixed. The CDU-SPD coalition agreement, published in March 2018, did not mention the Euro-zone minister. It soon became apparent that the temperature in the new Merkel-led coalition was lukewarm to the French proposals. It is difficult to see the Germans allowing further mutualisation of euro-debts, or agreeing to more fiscal transfers within the Euro-zone – and even completing the banking union is fraught with angst. In the context of the rise of the AFD in 2017, the Germans have other priorities: ensuring more pan-European solidarity in relation to migration and refugees in particular. Moreover, the new German coalition is divided on issues of European solidarity and a more integrated EU defense policy, matters of great concern to French President Macron. Macron’s call for there to be EU wide lists for elections to the European parliament was specifically rejected by the European parliament. His proposal for creating a euro-zone parliament, which echoed that of his predecessor Hollande, faced hostility from Berlin, as well as from the European Commission, for whom the European parliament already provides a democratic oversight of EU institutions. And his call for a separate budgetary chapter for the euro-zone economies – if understandably well received amongst the euro-zone ‘sinners’ in southern Europe – provoked eight northern EU states led by the Netherlands to publish their own rebuttal of the roadmap and to restate the importance of respecting the rules of euro membership.

Does this episode demonstrate the victory of style over substance? Such a judgement would be a harsh one. At the very least Macron has restored France’s seat at the table; there has been a credible restatement of the Franco-German relationship and its role in driving major new policy initiatives (the ‘roadmap’ agreed by Macron and Merkel in March 2018). The real issues are now being played out. The European Commission’s draft budgetary perspectives 2021-2027 – represent a direct challenge to traditional French priorities in agriculture – by advocating cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy. The proposed creation of a modest budgetary line for the euro-zone would appear to fall well short of Macron’s proposals for a very substantial budget to oversee transfers to the poorer Eurozone members as a measure of solidarity. Macron’s European credibility will be tested in the European council meeting of June 28th and 29th, the last meaningful occasion to provoke a European awakening before the 2019 European elections. Whatever the outcome this summit being billed as historic, there are obvious questions to be asked in relation to the goodness of fit between domestic and European leadership styles. There is arguably no office more capable of expressing an idealistic European vision than that of the French presidency, especially as personified by Emmanuel Macron. Rather paradoxically, however, the ‘vision thing’ might appear as counter-productive in European arenas, insofar as a holistic and non-negotiated vision has to confront the realities of EU bargaining and the continuing attraction of alternative narratives of the future of Europe.

France – Emmanuel Macron as the new ‘fast’ president

During the early days of his presidency, Emmanuel Macron was sometimes compared with the classical gods Hercules and Jupiter. The metaphor of Macron as Jupiter was intended to celebrate a return to authority and leadership at the heart of the State, a posture deliberately contrasted with the perceived failings of his three immediate predecessors: Chirac, Sarkozy and Hollande. Is Macron a regal figure? Or a republican monarch? Such labels are the usual metaphors of French Presidents In fact, Macron’s presidential style has a syncretic quality, drawing on practices and symbols of past French and foreign presidents.

There is a conscious and continuing reference to the practices, routines and gestures of his predecessors, with the nine Presidents of the Fifth Republic providing a rich empirical pool for developing a repertoire of presidential action. De Gaulle is the most obvious model, as the General’s return to power in May 1958 was followed by a six month period of governing by decrees (‘ordonnaces’), and calling on high civil servants (rather than politicians) to govern the country. There are many similarities between Macron and the first six months of the Gaullien period, not least in the negation of party politics and the creation of a presidential movement to support the action of the provident individual; in sum, the de Gaulle heritage for Macron signifies in part a leader against parties and the old cleavages. Next, in terms of significance, from President Giscard d’Estaing (1974-81), Macron demonstrates a youthful modernity and calls to reform blocked France that aspires to be governed in the national interest beyond left and right. From President Mitterrand, Macron proclaims a grand European design, eloquently presented in speech to the Sorbonne, following in the steps of Mitterrand over three decades earlier. The counter-models are the two ‘radical-republican’ Presidents Chirac (who held a hazardous referendum on the future of the EU) and Hollande, the deliberate anti-model. Beyond France, the most influential model and source of inspiration is the US President Barack Obama (‘Yes, we can’) and, at a distance once-removed, J-F. Kennedy. There is nothing entirely new under the sun, but Macron’s leadership goes beyond a careful cultivation of – and respect for- selected predecessors and comparators.

More recently, there have certain parallels with Sarkozy (2007-2012). The speed of Macron’s reforms bears some similarities with the early Sarkozy period. I argued elsewhere that in 2007-2012, the personal governing style of ‘speedy Sarko’ combined with a changed set of rules of the presidential game (the quickening rhythm of the quinquennat) to create the fast presidency, an evolution of the traditional presidential office . The Sarkozy presidency was inaugurated with a discourse of rupture –a break with existing political practices and established interests, a skilful political construction that captured the reform theme for the French right. A clearer presidential mandate gave rise to a more explicitly assumed policy leadership. Most of the key reforms of the 2007-2012 were directly associated with Sarkozy; from the reforms to the 35 hour week and flexible working ( 2007), through the detailed interventions in the field of state reform (RGPP, 2007-2012), the universities (2007), the environment (2008), local government (2009-2010) and the pensions reform (2010). The rhythm of the early period could be explained because the incoming President was fully vested with the legitimacy of a decisive electoral victory. The overall evaluation of Sarkozy’s reformist record, tempered by the impact of economic crisis, was rather paradoxical. If Sarkozy’s presidency was a reformist one, almost all of the key reforms introduced in 2007-08 had been modified or abandoned by 2012. The economic crisis of 2008 recast the dice and gradually the memory of the early reform period receded.

Fast forward ten years, and leaving aside the natural bombast involved in comparisons with Greek and Roman gods, the Jupiterian phase of the Macron presidency was intended to give a new sense of purpose to political choices, in the register of transformative political leadership. The Jupiter metaphor allowed Macron to announce clearly the reforms that would be undertaken during the course of the quinquennat, to guide the way. It would be an act as bad faith to accuse Macron of not putting into operation his campaign promises. The Macron presidency has, thus far, revealed itself to be one of the most ambitious and reformist in the history of the Fifth Republic. Around a dozen major fields were opened in the first few months, with clear sequences intended to give meaning to political action throughout the five year period. After a shaky start (the sacking of the chief in staff of the Army, the poor reception of cuts announced across governmental budgets without prior negotiation [and specifically of the housing benefits], the obvious inexperience of several new ministers and members of the governing LREM party), the early months of the presidency followed, fairly clearly, the roadmap announced by the President. The law on the moralisation of French politics forbad the practice of employing family members as staffers, and placed limits on expense claims. The decrees reforming the Labour Code (enhancing firm-level bargaining, limiting severance pay, reforming the operation of trade unions, especially in the smallest firms, simplifying and unifying staff representative committees in the workplace) were intended to modernize France’s system of industrial relations and encourage investment; any analysis of their impact is premature.

The speed and rhythm of the reform programme cast Macron as a new ‘fast President’, announcing multiple reforms in a blitzkrieg designed to destabilize the opposition, rather reminiscent of the early Sarkozy (2007-08) or Blair (1997-98) periods. The 2017-18 reform programme was an ambitious one, and few sectors were absent: the moralization of politics, the reform of labour law, a new internal security law, the abolition of the wealth tax, the changing rules for university entrance, the reform of the unemployment insurance and training regimes, immigration reform, prison reform, civil service reform, the overhaul of school examinations (the Baccalaureate) and even the sacred cow of the special statute for national railway workers.

In both cases, Sarkozy and Macron, a clear presidential mandate was followed by a vigorous programme of social and economic reforms. In both cases, also, an active presidential leadership was framed as the antithesis of an earlier period of stasis; the immobile Chirac, for Sarkozy, or the compromised Hollande, for Macron. In both cases, finally, the speed of reforms was designed to destabilize adversaries and exploit to the maximum the window of opportunity opened by precise concatenations of circumstances.

There are also contrasts, naturally. First, in relation to the strategic use of time. The image of the Duracell president under Sarkozy implied action and energy, rather than deep strategic reflection. Macron can claim to have integrated a more strategic use of time. Reforms have been closely sequenced, designed to underline that the President alone is the ‘timekeeper’ (le maître de l’ horloge). The first six months were an economic sequence, designed to set France on a course of economic reform and competitiveness (standing on the right-leg); the next period was intended to re-balance, to offer a social counterpart to economic reform (standing on the left leg).

More generally, the management of time forms a key part of Macron’s agenda. The strategic dimension of time management can be illustrated with the 2018 budget. The headlines of the 2018 budget concerned the powerful symbolic abolition of the wealth tax, along with the adoption of a 30% ‘flat tax’ to encourage investment in the ‘real’ economy and risk taking. The main novelty, however, was to move towards a five-year budgetary logic. Announcing spending priorities and commitments across the five year period (2018-2022) was intended to modify the meaning of the annual budget cycle, with a view to ensuring fiscal and policy stability over the medium term and encouraging investment. In the case of Macron, an overarching strategic timeframe (the budget, the quinquennat) is coupled with a clever tactical use of time; involving social partners in consultation, floating ideas subsequently to be watered down, and forcing deadlines on negotiations.

Second, in terms of style and method, Sarkozy’s presidency was based on a transgression of the key personal and institutional codes, most notably on a deeply political reading of the office, whereby the political leader dispensed with the discourse of national unity, slated opponents and invited unpopularity in response to detailed interventionism in politics and policy-making. Notwithstanding Macron’s double or triple language, and the tendency to ‘speak the language of the people’ when faced with controversy (see the recent Salon de l’Agriculture), there is more method. The announced reforms have followed a similar pattern: the promise of consultation (but not negotiation) with social partners and other interested parties; a strictly controlled government timetable; the announcement of ambitious targets to be achieved; a stated preference for the procedure of decrees and limited parliamentary oversight, and a strong investment in new instruments of central steering (the creation of a territorial agency for local government, a new training agency etc.).

Thus far, there is little practical opposition to Macron; the veteran left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon was forced to admit that Macron had ‘won the first round’ as attempts to mobilise against the reform of the labour code fell flat; the Socialist Party (PS), a shadow of its former self, is engaged in a process of introspection and leadership selection; the National Front (FN), having already suffered a split, is about to engineer a name change in the hope of recapturing its dynamism of the 2012-17 period; the Republicans are reviving somewhat under Laurent Wauquiez, but the inheritor party of the UMP has been deserted by its centrist and centre-right elements and electors; finally, the trade unions are more divided and ineffective than ever. The window of opportunity for reform remains open, but the Sarkozy comparison points to the dangers of managing reform in the medium and long term. The real test of time will be in 2022.

When European presidents abused presidential term limits

The abuse of presidential term limits is rife. In Uganda deputies voted only last month to abolish the age limit for presidential candidates. This decision paved the way for President Museveni to stand for a sixth term, the two-term limit there having already been scrapped in 2005.

In Europe, here meaning the member-state countries of the EU plus Iceland and Switzerland, presidential term limits are not subject to abuse. However, Europe has not always been exempt from practices typically associated with the abuse of presidential term limits. Indeed, there have been examples of presidential terms limits being abolished, ‘grandfathering’ clauses being introduced, and term lengths being extended to suit particular presidents.

In five European countries, presidential term limits have been abolished at some point. In these cases, the process of abolition was often associated with the manipulation of presidential term lengths as well.

  • In France, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was directly elected as president in December 1848. With the constitution allowing only a four-year non-renewable term, he staged a coup in December 1852, soon becoming Emperor Napoleon III.
  • In Lithuania, the 1926 coup led by Antanas Smetona was followed by a new Constitution in 1928. In the new Constitution, presidential term lengths were extended and term limits were abolished, leaving President Smetona constitutionally secure in power.
  • In Portugal, a presidency was established with the 1911 Constitution following the abolition of the monarchy. In 1933 Salazar’s so-called Estado Novo constitution extended the president’s term to seven years and abolished term limits. Salazar himself didn’t serve as president, but the abolition of presidential term limits was part of his strategy for securing power in the regime at that time.
  • In Austria, President Hainisch stepped down in 1928 because he was term limited. He was succeeded by Wilhelm Miklas. In 1933 Prime Minister Engelbert Dolfuß effectively ended democracy by shutting down parliament. In 1934 a new Constitution was passed in which presidential term lengths were extended and term limits were abolished. President Miklas benefited from the change, though he was allowed to do so because he was such a docile figure that he posed no threat to the authoritarian regime.
  • Finally, in Czechoslovakia the 1948 Constitution included a term-limit clause. The 1948 Constitution was drafted before the Communists fully assumed power that year. In 1960 a new Constitution was passed, leaving in doubt the Communist nature of the regime, and term limits were abolished as part of the reform.

‘Grandfathering’ is where a particular individual is exempt from a general rule. In the case of presidential term limits, it means that the Constitution includes a term-limit procedure, but a particular individual is exempted from such limits and, in effect, serves as a president for life. There are two historic cases of ‘grandfathering’ in Europe, both in Czechoslovakia.

  • In the 1920 Czechoslovak Constitution, the text stipulated a seven-year term with a two-term limit. However, it also stated that these provisions did not apply to the first president. This was Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. President Masaryk reminded in power until 1935 when he resigned on health grounds.
  • In the 1948 Czechoslovak Constitution, there was also a clause stating that the term-limit provisions did not apply to a particular person, this time to the second president of the Republic. This was Edvard Beneš. He had succeeded Masaryk, becoming the second President of the Republic, only to be forced from power after the Munich Agreement in 1938. He returned in 1945 and was president in May 1948 when the Constitution of that year was promulgated. However, Beneš opposed the Communist takeover and he resigned in June 1948, effectively making the ‘grandfather’ clause a dead letter.

In effect, then, the abuse of presidential term limits in the countries in the sample here ended in the early post-war period. This is partly because in the post-war period most European democracies have had figurehead presidents, leaving little incentive to abuse term-limit provisions. More importantly, the abuse of term limits is endogenous to the abuse of the rule of law more generally. In other words, the abuse of term limits is a symptom of a democracy in decline, rather than the cause. Given democracy in Europe has remained strong, term limits have been respected. We only have to look at a European country outside the sample here, Belarus, to see how term limits were abused when democracy itself was abolished.

It is worth noting, though, that in four European countries in the sample, there are currently no presidential term limits. They are Cyprus, Iceland, Italy, and Malta. In addition, two democracies previously operated for long periods without term limits – Finland from 1919-1990 and France from 1875-1940 and again from 1958-2008.

The absence of term limits has led to some ‘long’ presidencies, even when countries have been unequivocally democratic. In Finland, President Urho Kekkonen was in office from 1956-1982 and in Iceland four presidents have served for three or more terms, with President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson holding the presidency from 1996-2016.

In Iceland, Italy, and Malta, there are figurehead presidents. So, there is little call for the introduction of presidential term limits. Cyprus, though, has a presidential system. No Cypriot president has been elected for more than two consecutive terms since Makarios III, even if a number of presidents have stood unsuccessfully for a third term. Even so, the introduction of term limits is regularly part of the political debate. Indeed, a bill to this effect is due to be debated in the legislature very soon.

Overall, in European democracies presidential term limits are, almost by definition, safe from abuse as long as the rule of law remains in place. However, in the past term limits have been abused and more recently some European democracies have witnessed ‘long’ presidencies in the absence of a presidential term-limit clause.

France – President Macron’s political leadership: The personal dimension

One of the core enigmas of the 2017 presidential campaign related to the personality of Emmanuel Macron. Who is Emmanuel Macron? As the real prospect of his election drew nearer, the search for the ‘real’ Macron preoccupied journalists, commentators, political satirists and (rival) politicians, in more or less good faith. Did Macron represent the tardive manifestation in France of Blairite Third Way, as suggested by Arnaud Parmentier (2017) in Le Monde? While there are some obvious similarities, Blair framed his leadership within one of the established parties, whereby Macron came from outside the existing party establishment. Or, on the contrary, as the specialist of the French right Gilles Robert contended, was Macron a contemporary version of the liberal, Orleanist right, an adept of political and economic liberalization (Richard, 2017)? Or, more crudely, the representative of international finance, as maliciously portrayed by Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, in a not so strange convergence? Or quite simply the continuation of the (failed) Hollande presidency, the favourite frame of the LR candidate François Fillon?

Even before his election as President, Macron was not a totally unknown quantity, of course. As deputy General Secretary of the Presidential staff from 2012-14, Macron was a key figure in the background, exercising a reputedly strong influence in relation to the social liberal turn of the Hollande presidency (lowering taxes on business via the Business tax credit scheme [Crédit d’impôt pour la compétitivité et l’emploi – CICE] of 2013) and the Business Pact [Pacte de Responsabilité] of 2014). As Minister for the Economy, Industry and Digital Policy, Macron associated his name with a complex law that aimed comprehensively to modernize and liberalise the French economy; that most of its more controversial measures (especially in relation to the professions and work regulations) were abandoned or diluted was more a testament to the stout resistance of the Socialist frondeurs than evidence of half-hearted intent. In August 2016, Macron resigned from his position at the heart of the Hollande administration to launch the risky venture of building his political movement (En Marche!, launched in April 2016) and standing for the French presidential election. At the very least, he is a political entrepreneur and a risk-taker.

Focusing on the individual qualities of a political leader is a necessary (though not sufficient) exercise. Understanding Macron requires adopting, or at least adapting, a framework for studying political leadership. Most models of political leadership involve some combination of personal qualities, positional strengths and weaknesses, and the wider environmental and cultural constraints and opportunities that help shape political leadership. Understanding Macron requires a combination of three levels of analysis: micro (individual), the meso- (institution) and the macro (Europe, foreign policy, international economy). The political constellation in 2017 and the interaction of these three levels arguably placed Macron in a strong position to win through to the second round and eventually be elected President. In his management of the first eight months of his presidency, a mode of two or three-level bargaining has described well his pursuit of his presidential goals and ambitions. Three-level bargaining is used to refer to the interplay between political persona, institutional position and external constraints and opportunities. The theme will be developed more in the next blog. There is at least a heuristic value in combining levels of analysis if we are to understand Macron’s activity as President. In this first of three blog entries dedicated to Emmanuel Macron, and cognizant of the interactive relationship between levels of analysis, I focus on the personal dimension of his leadership.

Macron’s personal qualities are understood and valued insofar as they inform a broader political persona. Insofar as we integrate personal variables, these play themselves out at three levels of abstraction: personal attributes, symbolic attributes and representative attributes.

This first level of analysis is, inevitably, second-hand. But it is valuable, insofar as it disseminates representations that circulate and that are more or less tolerated and organized by the individual himself. A stream of books and articles on Macron were published in and around the 2017 presidential election. These ranged from the hagiographical (Besson, 2017), through the psycho-biography (Fulda, 2016), to the philosophical (Couturier, 2017), or the instant or contemporary historical approach (Jeanneney, 2017; Prissette, 2017 ; Debray, 2017 ; Bourmaud, 2017) and the first attempts at conceptualization and understanding (Debray, 2017). Personal qualities are not intrinsically valued in our account, unless they contribute to the style of governing. In the case of Macron, there is an argument that Brigitte, his spouse, played an important role in the overall political enterprise and that Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron formed a coherent political household, akin to that of the Pompidou family at an earlier period. It was certainly the case that the foreign media were obsessed with Brigitte Macron, who developed her own office within the Elysée, signed a transparency charter, setting out her role and responsibilities, and cultivated her image as a promotor of the liberal arts and various good causes.

At the level of personal traits: the leadership qualities of decisiveness, strength, resolution, risk-taking, vision and imagination are differentially distributed, irrespective of wider structural circumstances. Not even his fiercest adversary can contest the ability to take risks; giving up his position as Economy, Industry and Digital minister to launch himself into the risky venture of En Marche! demonstrated this. Resigning from the civil service to be able to contest the campaign goes in the same direction. Some common themes that emerge from a rapid analysis of the above works are Macron’s personal qualities of determination, resolution and brilliance, coupled with the adjective of the killer with a penchant for vertical forms of governing. The downside was the diffusion (in early surveys, at least) of the image of a rather arrogant, distant and elitist individual.

The personal dimension of Macron might also be understood at a level once removed, or a second level of abstraction. His personal background is interesting insofar as Macron appears as a typical representative of the French elite, having studied at the elite Sciences Po and the National School of Administration (Ecole nationale d’administration – ENA). Rather like former President Pompidou, Macron also spent a period of time working in the private sector, for the Rothschild bank. In a JDD-IFOP poll of 16-17th March 2017 before his election, only 41% considered Macron to be close to the people; his background as a brilliant ENA graduate and his work for Rothschild bank leave the indelible image that Macron is a member of the French elite. This representation is treated in a more nuanced way in some accounts. Abel insists on the fact that the young Macron studied for a higher degree in philosophy at Nanterre University and worked as editorial assistant for the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, a reference that underpins the cultivated image of Macron as the President-Philosopher, or, again, as the avid consumer of highbrow literature (Abel, 2017; Mongin, 2017).

A rather different line of enquiry – a third level of abstraction – relates to whether Macron embodies the sign of the times, the candidate who best crystallized the confused and contradictory ethos of a particular epoch. The focus here is not so much on individual qualities, as on the representative function vested upon him. The first claim is that of generational renewal: he represents better than any other candidate the demand for a new generation. Elected President at 39 years old, Macron was a few years younger than Tony Blair and around the same age as Matteo Renzi in Italy when he became premier. Second, Macron’s election symbolized the running out of steam of the traditional left-right cleavage in French politics. Macron was elected President while riding high on the rejection of party and contesting the validity of the left-right cleavage. For Taguieff (2017), Macron was both actor and subject of the withering away of the old cleavage of left and right, and the embodiment of a new one, based on an openness-closure division within French society. For Bigorne and colleagues, Macron is the symbol of the decomposition and recomposition of the French political system, a transformative position partially instigated by Macron himself.

Third, Macron’s election was symbolic of a generational renewal and an overhaul of political personnel. There was a symbolic rejuvenation and major change of political personnel, characterized by the arrival en masse of new deputies with no political experience, of activists with no experience of political activism and professionals trusted to manage the affairs of their sector. Macron’s avowed distrust of parties was expressed by a preference for rule by experts and professionals, reflected in the composition of the Philippe government itself. Some prominent examples include Muriel Pénicaud, Minister for Employment (former head of Human Resources in the Danone firm), Jean-Michel Blanquer, Education Minister (former President of the HEC business school) and Agnès Buzin (a practicing doctor who became Minister for Health).

All of this adds up to an appreciation of style. We understand style to refer to the complex mix of preferences, beliefs, skills, values and practices of individuals in a potential leadership situation. In terms of Macron, there is some tension between two prevalent frames in the literature: that of the transformative leader, in the framework popularized by James McGregor Burns (1978) and the equilibrist or museum curator (inherent in the campaign theme of ‘en même temps’). In her analysis of ‘the ten words that best characterize Macron’, Darrigand prefers Transformation to that of Revolution (though ‘Revolution’ was the title of Macron’s successful 2016 book). Transformation refers to the ambitious programme of gradual reforms, the cumulative effect of which is to transform society. Transformation is most definitely preferred in the Macron lexicography either to Revolution (a utopian vision removed from reality and producing dystopian outcomes), or to Reform (a negative truism, associated with disillusion on account of the failure of successive governments to reform French society). It is progressive and pragmatic. Transformation is viewed by Macron as a form of correction of past errors, of unblocking the numerous blockages of French politics, society and economy and liberating energies, while protecting the weakest in society. In this sense, transformation can tie into the en même temps slogan, popularised and chanted by Macron supporters during the 2017 campaign.

En même temps can be read first as a campaign slogan – rather like Obama’s Yes We Can. The literal translation – ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ – might be subject to confusion, however. It can imply an equilibrist, between left and right, the traditional positioning of the centre in France. Identifying itself as between left and right, the French centre has traditionally been squeezed between the Scylla of anti-Gaullism and the Charybdis of anti-Socialism, with a tendency for the centre to drift towards the latter position. The rallying of historic centrist François Bayrou in February 2017 put Macron’s flagging campaign back on track; the debt to the traditional centre was acknowledged by the freshly elected Macron, who rewarded Bayrou with a major position in government and ensured that the MODEM was generously endowed with winnable seats in the June 2017 parliamentary elections (at which the MODEM elected 51 deputies). But renewing with a certain legacy of the French centre is only a small part of the Macron story. En même temps can also imply a transformative leader beyond left and right, consigning the key ideological cleavage drawn from the French revolution to history; the ‘old’ system condemned by Macron and supporters is roundly rejected, both in terms of the mutually exclusive ideological frames it embodies and the parties it produces which feed on maintaining ideological exclusivities for instrumental partisan advantage.

Third, en même temps can be understood as left and right. In this third synthesis, left and right provide inspiration, ideas and talented people on which a modernising President should draw. The historical precursors are General de Gaulle in 1945 and 1958, Prime Minister Rocard in 1988, even President Sarkozy in 2007: on each occasion, political leaders attempted to draw in the best talents from across the political spectrum. The political leader is likened to the curator of a museum, classifying the contributions made by left and right and drawing in the best talents, ideas and political programmes from wherever their provenance. These three positions – centre, central, custodial – are not identical, however, and imply a permanent process of adjustment (between social protection and economic liberalisation, for example). Macron’s New Year address to the French on 31st December 2017 implied that the economic reform agenda of the first eight months would be counter-balanced by a more protective and social approach in 2018.

Finally, en même temps ought to be read as a coded attack on the legacy of his predecessor Hollande, the former President accused of being unable to make firm decisions, of hesitating, of fiddling while Rome burns, while Macron’s central position is portrayed by supporters as openly embracing the best talents and ideas in a problem- solution logic. For Taguieff (2017), Macron’s success lies in the capacity to embody opposites: to be centrist and radical; to be courteous and ruthless; to appear as politically correct and anti-system. The key question is whether the equilibrist can put into effect a process of transformation. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s old dream of representing two of every three French people ran into determined opposition and ultimately failed. The Macron experiment deserves closer empirical observation, which will be the subject of the next post.

References

Abel, O. 92017), ‘Paul Ricoeur et Emmanuel Macron’, Etudes, Septembre, 4241, pp. 47-57;
Besson, P. (2017) Un personnage de roman, Paris : Plon, 2017
Bigorne, L., Baudry, A. & Duhamel, O. (2017), Macron, Et En Meme Temps, Paris : Plon.
Bourmaud, F.-X. (2017) Emmanuel Macron – Les Coulisses D’une Victoire, Paris : L’archipel, 2017.
Burns, J.-M. (1978) Leadership, New York: Harper Collins, 1978.
Couturier, B. (2017), Macron : un président philosophe Paris : Editions de l’observatoire.
Darrigand, M. (2017), ‘Emmanuel Macron en Dix Mots’ Etudes, 4241, pp. 21-32, September.
Debray, R. (2017) Le nouveau pouvoir Paris: Editions du Cerf.
Fulda, A. (2016) Emmanuel Macron, Un Jeune Homme Si Parfait Paris : Plon.
Gaetner, G. (2017) Les 100 Jours De Macron Paris : Fauves Editions.
Jeanneney, J-N. (2017) Le Moment Macron – Un Président Et L’histoire Paris : Seuil.
Mongin, O. (2017)‘Les lectures d’Emmanuel Macron’, Commentaire, 159, pp. 519-523.
Parmentier A. (2017) ‘Macron, la troisième voie’, Le Monde 3rd March.
Prissette, N. (2017), Emmanuel Macron : Le président inattendu, Paris : First.
Richard, R. (2017)‘Ce que l’histoire de la droite nous apprend’, Le Point, 9th March.
Taguieff, P.-A. (2017) Macron : Miracle Ou Mirage ? Paris : Editions de l’Observatoire.

New publications

Robert Elgie, Political Leadership: A Pragmatic Institutionalist Approach, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Robert Elgie, ‘The election of Emmanuel Macron and the new French party system: a return to the éternel marais?’, Modern & Contemporary France, pp. 1-15, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09639489.2017.1408062.

Tapio Raunio and Thomas Sedelius, ‘Shifting Power-Centres of Semi-Presidentialism: Exploring Executive Coordination in Lithuania’, Government and Opposition, pp. 1-24, 2017 doi:10.1017/gov.2017.31.

António Costa Pinto and Paulo José Canelas Rapaz (eds.), Presidentes e (Semi)Presidencialismo nas Democracias Contemporâneas, Lisbon, ICS, 2017.

Rui Graça Feijó, ‘Perilous semi-presidentialism? On the democratic performance of Timor-Leste government system’, Contemporary Politics, Online first, available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/Ah3Y2e6RJFCwnbA4BRze/full

Special issue on Perilous Presidentialism in Southeast Asia; Guest Editors: Mark Thompson and Marco Bünte. Contemporary Politics, Papers available Online first at: http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showAxaArticles?journalCode=ccpo20.

Jung-Hsiang Tsai, ‘The Triangular Relationship between the President, Prime Minister, and Parliament in Semi-presidentialism: Analyzing Taiwan and Poland’, Soochow Journal of Political Science, Vol. 35, Iss. 2, (2017): 1-71.

Nicholas Allen, ‘Great Expectations: The Job at the Top and the People who do it’, The Political Quarterly. doi:10.1111/1467-923X.12447.

Farida Jalalzai, ‘Women Heads of State and Government’, in Amy C. Alexander, Catherine Bolzendahl and Farida Jalalzai (eds.), Measuring Women’s Political Empowerment Across the Globe, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Aidan Smith, Gender, Heteronormativity, and the American Presidency’, London: Routledge, 2018.

Special issue on Protest and Legitimacy: Emerging Dilemmas in Putin’s Third Term, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Volume 25, Number 3, Summer 2017.

Marcelo Camerlo and Cecilia Martínez-Gallardo (eds.), Government Formation and Minister Turnover in Presidential Cabinets: Comparative Analysis in the Americas, Routledge, 2018.

Michael Gallagher, ‘The Oireachtas: President and Parliament’, Politics in the Republic of Ireland, 6th Edition, Routledge, 2018.

João Carvalho, ‘Mainstream Party Strategies Towards Extreme Right Parties: The French 2007 and 2012 Presidential Elections’, Government and Opposition, pp. 1-22, 2017, doi:10.1017/gov.2017.25

Sidney M. Milkis and John Warren York, ‘Barack Obama, Organizing for Action, and Executive-Centered Partisanship’, Studies in American Political Development, 31(1), 1-23. doi:10.1017/S0898588X17000037.

Pål Kolstø and Helge Blakkisrud, ‘Regime Development and Patron–Client Relations: The 2016 Transnistrian Presidential Elections and the “Russia Factor”’, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Volume 25, Number 4, Fall 2017, pp. 503-528.