It is hard to avoid noticing the striking similarities between Barack Obama and Emmanuel Macron.
Both were relatively young on becoming president of their respective countries, both came out of virtually nowhere, both rode a wave of deep discontent within their own societies, and both made a play of being against “the system” while being part of it.
Obama had studied at Harvard and Columbia before becoming a Senator, while Macron is an enarque and former investment banker and minister.
Both face(d) principled value-based opposition in office and lack(ed) the solid institutional political and parliamentary base which could solve the problems and implement their agenda.
Incumbent leaders and parties often lose mid-term elections, but in the 2010 mid-terms, the Democrats suffered some of the biggest losses in US electoral history since the Great Depression.
As a result, Obama was forced to resort to executive orders to get his bills through – a tactic which in turn engendered more opposition and gives the lie to the journalistic cliché that the American president is the most powerful man in the world.
The French Constitution gives the President more powers than in the United States, but as we noted immediately after the results of the first round came through on 23 April 2017 and again yesterday, Macron does not even have a formal political party behind him, but rather an inchoate movement.
If Macron’s nascent party fails to get a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly under France’s past-the-post system in the June 2017 elections, the new president could be faced with cohabitation and an inability to get his legislation through – Obama déjà vu?