MAINTENANCE. The former President of the Constitutional Council and figure of Gaullism regrets the absence of statesmen and says he is worried about the right. I subscribe for 1€ the 1st month
Going to see Pierre Mazeaud is like opening the first pages of the Fifth Republic. The former deputy of Haute-Savoie has a CV as long as his arm, considers Michel Debré as his spiritual father, recounts his two interviews with General de Gaulle, his Homeric shouting matches with his friend Jacques Chirac, his work within the Commission laws or his visceral attachment to the Constitution. Returning home means admiring photos of his mountaineering exploits, but also historical documents, such as a letter scribbled by General de Gaulle indicating his future choices for the government.
At 92, Pierre Mazeaud does not live in the past. On the ground, Le Monde opened with an article devoted to sovereignty; Le Point – healthy reading – dedicated to the General. On the desk, a small book: The Constitution of the Ve Republic, of which he highlighted a “very important” article. Until the end, the former President of the Constitutional Council will defend French sovereignty and will take a demanding look at French politics. Interview with an enthusiast.
Le Point: Emmanuel Macron will complete his five-year term in a few months. What is your assessment of his four and a half years at the Élysée?
Pierre Mazeaud:He seized an opportunity. He understood in 2017 that political parties no longer functioned. He is smart, he went for it and he was elected. Being smart doesn't make you a good president. It takes experience. He had never been through an election before and had no political party, he had nothing but a few friends who were loyal to him, but not of very high political value. His mistake was to keep them. When all the men of Free France, even heroes!, wanted to enter the government, de Gaulle told them: “It's out of the question. Be MPs, we'll see later. “I don't attack men, but he has no one. He is alone. Because he is alone, he considers himself right. He took me to Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises. In the helicopter, he spoke to me a lot about justice and the reforms he wanted to put in place. I told him what I thought – I'm a little harsh sometimes: “Don't do this, don't do that.” Emmanuel Macron answered me: “How is it that my collaborators did not tell me that? And there, I understood: he is surrounded by valuable enarques, but who know nothing about politics and are unable to say “no” to their boss. De Gaulle had people who knew how to talk to him. Michel Debré said “no” to him, which did not prevent loyalty. When he wanted to set up the election of the president by universal suffrage, Michel Debré and I opposed it. We said “no”. And when the General stood by his decision, we followed him, because loyalty demanded it. But de Gaulle had made a decision by listening to opposing opinions. In addition, Emmanuel Macron is very distant from the Assembly and the Senate.
The criticism that is also made of him is that of the distance with the French…
Because he had no political skills! It is not because he went to Rothschild that he learned politics. He didn't find out about it at the Finance Inspectorate. He had good intuition. It lacks a local mandate. So yes, in his travels, he sees the French, he shakes hands. But shaking hands is not seeing people. The president is far too important in French democracy. In the Constitution, I remind you, there is an article which specifies that it is the government which determines and conducts the policy of the country. The candidate makes known what he wants to do; the president gives the main directions. We did not see General de Gaulle alongside his Minister of Industry in a factory to ask what the workers need and give it to them. Back to the Constitution. We must find wise and reasonable policies, there are no more. His friends from LREM are bored in Parliament. Some tell me they are there to raise their hands. There is no more debate. When I go to the Assembly, I see that the deputies do not speak to each other, they do not know each other, they do not say “hello”. We were a mess. We laughed with the communists. This did not prevent us from being anchored on our main principles. There was a most pleasant atmosphere. There, there is hatred in Parliament… It distorts all debate and it brings mediocrity in politics. The executive has gained considerable weight. This was already the case under Nicolas Sarkozy who convened Congress to pass the Lisbon Treaty which was rejected by the French in 2005.
The first who despised Parliament, c is General de Gaulle in 1962 by dissolving the Assembly after a motion of censure voted against Georges Pompidou…
Yes, but the General later won the referendum… Reread Georges Vedel's article, the forfeiture has been washed away.
Do you know the President of the Republic personally?
He invited me when he was appointed Minister of Finance. We had dinner together. He told me about his conception of France, I was not against it. He had bluffed me on problems where I am totally incompetent, out of laziness, on computers and the weight of new technologies. This is also one of the challenges for the years to come: I am very worried about the Gafa who run the world. Politicians committed suicide by granting too much power to these companies. But you know, there's no good politician left in the world: I was glad Donald Trump was beaten, of course, but look at Biden, he's doing the same thing! Even worse with his comments on Taiwan! When I say that, I'm being nostalgic, and I shouldn't. General de Gaulle had a vision, surrounded by statesmen. This is no longer the case today.
How do you view the LR nomination race?
I know them well. Valérie Pécresse, I like her, because I had known her at the Council of State. She's a very good lawyer and she's a good regional president. She's smart and she's got experience. Xavier Bertrand is a man who knows the terrain and who has succeeded in the Hauts de France. He is hardworking and knows how to talk with people. He knows France. I don't see Michel Barnier, the French Kennedy, being elected. They say he got Brexit done. It totally failed: the English continue their millennial policy. He has a huge argument: the Albertville Olympics. But that's a bit far… I don't think any of the LR candidates will be elected President of the Republic. Emmanuel Macron will be re-elected with extreme accuracy with a large abstention. But he won't be able to do anything, because he will have a contrary Assembly. There will be a kind of alliance between the left and the right who want revenge and they will not vote for any text.
(He cuts us off.) That's a real problem. There's too much. And the press only talks about that. We do too much with Éric Zemmour. The press resumes the little music that the media made for Father Le Pen and which allowed him to rise in public opinion. We attack him, but we want him to come see us. The press is making the image of Mr. Zemmour. I apologize for telling a journalist, but I'm very upset.
Isn't there a bit of politics in his candidacy? old style with a capital “P”, where we talk about France and not social security contributions?
Yes and no. It responds to a form of populism. He's not stupid. But when he talks about the General… You have in front of you a Gaullist and when Mr. Zemmour comes to explain that Pétain would have saved Jews… Pétain, it is still the meeting of Montoire! When he claims to be a Gaullist, de Gaulle wants in his grave to give him a slap. But he will do voices. It is perhaps he who can find himself facing Macron. He will be saved by his management of the Covid, where he showed authority in front of the scientific committee.
Europe is not a nation.
Today, everyone claims to be a Gaullist…
General de Gaulle once said: “They will all talk about me. The French are like that: they kicked him out in 1969, but in the current situation, which is hopeless and tragic, we go back to those great times, those great men. He was able to say no. And then the call of June 18, it's still an adventure! That's a mouthful! You know, right or left, everyone chooses their de Gaulle.
Should Europe be at the heart of the campaign?
I've never been very European, but once it's decided and you get on the train, you can't back down. Since Europe has existed, there have been many mistakes, in particular excessive enlargements without paying attention to the solidity of the integrated countries. When Europe found itself facing great difficulties, it failed to react. It was divided, especially on the question of Putin. There is no union: look, we are practically the only ones managing the crisis in the Sahel. Europe is nothing. She has differences with Brexit and Poland. On this last point, if I am not a fan of the Polish government, made up of people from the extreme right, but in this case he is right: the Constitution of the nations prevails over European law. Europe is not a nation. I see that Emmanuel Macron is rather on the trend of von der Leyen: be careful not to divide the French! Except that the President of the Republic is in a contradiction: on the fishing dispute, what is he doing with the British? He exercises his sovereignty.
You are still passionate about politics!
Yes, but by far. I look, I see some old friends and some not so old. I try to follow a bit. What strikes me is the fall in the level of political personnel and the glaring lack of statesmen. When you think that General de Gaulle spent one day a week – on Fridays he went to Colombey – thinking. He saw no one and took no phone calls. He spent Fridays wandering around the gardens building his vision. And sixty years later, we say, “What a visionary!” He took the time to be visionary! Today is over. They are always on the move. The whole thing being aggravated by the presidential election. The presidential election is rock'n'roll every five years. If only we could put an end to this election…
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