When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

LES ECHOS

Notre Dame, Macron And The Imperative For National Unity

Bogged down by months of protests, the embattled French president now faces a new kind of challenge. But the disastrous cathedral fire may also be something of an opportunity.

French President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild Notre Dame on Monday
French President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild Notre Dame on Monday
Stéphane Dupont

-Analysis-

PARIS — "Nothing will be as it was before." Emmanuel Macron's five-year term as president of France has taken a completely different turn in wake of the terrible fire in the Notre Dame cathedral. Unyielding tensions gave way to a climate of national unity, the likes of which France has rarely seen.

The country is united behind its "common cathedral," as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the leftist La France Insoumise party, called it. Political quarrels have become secondary. Political parties have suspended their campaign for the European elections, and attacks on the president came to an abrupt stop.

It won't last, of course. Still, the moment is rare. At no point since Macron's election — not even in the event of terrorist attacks, or when the national soccer team won the 2018 World Cup — has France been taken by such fervor, such a surge of solidarity, such a feeling of unity. Probably because it was shaken to its core, in the deepest parts.

At no point since Macron's election has France been taken by such fervor.

This is all the more striking given that in the last two years, antagonisms rose to an eventual breaking point with the appearance, last autumn, of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests). This movement has brought to light gaping social and territorial divisions, a society fragmented as never before.

The damaged Notre Dame from a viewing platform — Photo: Marcel Kusch/ZUMA

This impromptu national unity could help Macron extricate himself from the "great national debate" debacle. The "debate" was a series of public consultations held nationwide. Opponents dismissed the process as a "masquerade" or "smokescreen" and were ready to pounce on Macron come Monday night when he was supposed to announce his first post-debate measures. Then the fire in Notre Dame broke out, postponing the announcement but also dampening, no doubt, the hostility it was expected to arouse.

At the same time, the measures must now meet an even greater requirement: to speak to as many people as possible, to reach a minimum consensus. In short, to bring people together. Will Emmanuel Macron succeed? This is the objective he seems to have set for himself. And based on what's been made public so far, the measures are likely to satisfy the broad majority and not inspire too much opposition.

They don't, at least, contain a "bitter pill" — except for the prospect of "working more" to cover costs for retirement-age people and the possible abolition of certain tax breaks for the most privileged. At any rate, the kind of tax justice the French majority demands is an income-tax reduction, not a return of the wealth tax or a property-tax increase.

The only real bone being thrown to the people who, for months now, have been denouncing the disconnection between the "elites' and the "people" is the closure of the National School of Administration. Not enough to break the national unity that emerged from Monday night's tragedy.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ