September 19, 2021

How Macron’s “whatever the cost” neutralized political opposition

“There is no magic money”, assured Emmanuel Macron in April 2018 to a nurse from the Rouen University Hospital who asked for funds for the hospital. Three years later, not only this “Magic money” has become reality with “whatever the cost”, irrigating entire swathes of an economy battered by the health crisis. But it produced another unexpected effect on the political landscape: it neutralized the debate, leaving dull oppositions over economic policy.

In fact, not a single voice, or almost, raised to question the billions spent for nearly a year and a half – neither on the right nor on the left, not more on the side of the unions or the employers. While some economists have wondered about the nature of the emergency measures, their targeting, the scale of the sums committed – in total, more than 170 billion euros including the amending budget which will arrive in the Chamber in mid-December. June -, the policies remained, on the whole, silent.

At the same time, the phrase “whatever the cost” has taken hold – it has been picked up in the media on average over 1,000 times a month since it was uttered by the chef. state in March 2020, according to the Kantar agency.

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“The left is pissed off, admits political scientist Chloé Morin, opinion specialist and advisor to Matignon under François Hollande. This is the policy she would have pursued had she been in a position to do so. “ Even embarrassment on the right, more traditionally quick to criticize excess public spending. As the regional elections approach, the heads of the list Les Républicains (LR) do not dare to attack the executive on the economic ground. “We couldn’t do otherwise”, concedes today the former minister Eric Woerth, president (LR) of the finance committee of the National Assembly.

Political tool

Even the National Rally, which had developed a social component in its economic program in 2017, seems unable to articulate a criticism, preferring to focus on the issue of debt. Only Laurent Wauquiez, president (LR) of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, sees in “whatever the cost” a “Deep error”. “Every euro is sacred and must be weighed”, he reminded the JDD and March. “You had to put in money, yes. But wasting it is not the same. (…) When, at the top of the state, we say “it’s open fund”, the results can only be catastrophic. “

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