Exactly five years ago, Emmanuel Macron started the En Marche !
movement in his home town of Amiens
. The club, with the (very modest) founder’s initials, promised to be neither left-wing nor right-wing
, a fresh, modern wind would blow through the entrenched French politics. The promise appealed to many. In the summer of 2016, a real buzz arose around EM !
He resigned as minister (thereby sticking the dagger even deeper in the back of his mentor, President Hollande) to devote himself to his campaign. A bit later, Macron surprised friend and foe alike
by entering the presidential election as a debutant and then winning it
. The rest is history.
Politics as a cash cow
The party is now called La République en Marche (LREM) in full, but it is not doing very well. One lustrum later, the lustre of its beginnings is gone.
Politically speaking, LREM has lost its way considerably by now. Is it indeed a Centre Party, or is it just the equivalent of a conservative Emperor’s new clothes? The party has not succeeded in renewing French politics, partly because many new members and parliamentarians were already in the old politics. No less than 95 per cent of the members
from the beginning have disappeared. Even Macron sometimes distances himself from the largest party in the Assembly (which has already lost at least 44 MPs
, and therefore its majority
). In the polls for the upcoming regional elections in June, the party is in 3rd or 4th place
Not all is gloomy though. Financially, LREM is doing pretty well: since the elections in 2017, no less than 112 million euros in subsidies
have slipped into the party’s coffers. Among other things, the party bought a €35 million building
in the Rue du Rocher
in the posh 8th arrondissement, which will become its headquarters after the summer. The office is not too far from the Elysée Palace, apparently in the expectation that the party founder will remain there for the next few years.