French Puzzle Over Macron as Their New President Gathers Up Power


PARIS — Is he Machiavelli, Bonaparte or de Gaulle? Emmanuel Macron wrote a thesis about the first, is often compared to the second and frequently cites the third.

That parlor game playing out in the French media, as France tries to figure out its new president, demonstrates one thing: Mr. Macron has already concentrated all the power, nearly by default.

He rarely speaks to the press, limits public appearances and has helped candidates who support his agenda win a majority in the National Assembly.

Mr. Macron insists that his intensive assembling of the tools of power is not an end in itself, and the sense of direction, energy and renewal has been welcomed by French citizens who have longed for greater authority in Paris after the weak presidency of his predecessor, François Hollande.

But it has also led some critics to accuse Mr. Macron of “authoritarian” tendencies. A weekly newsmagazine’s cover called him “Jupiter.” The hyperbole has been widely mocked. But few doubt that Mr. Macron has assumed the role of master string-puller, operating from a political planet he has created for himself.