Emmanuel Macron received, Wednesday, August 30 in Saint-Denis, the leaders of the opposition parties as part of his “major political initiative”. A long meeting that did not lead to reforms or weighty measures.

If the major political initiative has fulfilled the expectations of the majority, it leaves perplexed, even disappointed, the forces of the opposition. Emmanuel Macron met the heads of all the “political forces represented in Parliament” on Wednesday August 30, in Seine-Saint-Denis, for round tables that dragged on: 12 hours of discussions that did not lead to any concrete action . But that was not the objective of the “Saint-Denis meeting”, the name given to the political meeting, assured Olivier Véran. Guest of France Info, this Thursday, the government spokesman clarified that it was “consultations”, and not “programming of future reforms”. However, the exchanges between the Head of State and the leaders of the political parties were to open the “way” to legislative texts and “if necessary” to referendums, according to the description given by the presidency of “the initiative major policy”.

The discussions were punctuated by three main axes: “the international situation”, the institutions responsible for “public action” and “the cohesion of the Nation”. A final theme which made it possible to address questions linked to school, purchasing power, integration and even inequalities.

No speech by the President of the Republic was announced, or even planned, at the end of his meeting with the opposition forces. The meeting was above all a moment of listening and exchange, but “there will be a return” declared the government spokesperson all the same, without specifying the form or even the date of this report. This return could correspond to the government seminar scheduled for September 6 and mentioned at the end of the Council of Ministers by Olivier Véran. The seminar must ensure the follow-up of the political initiative, the proposals made by the oppositions and “to address the issues on the merits but also from a point of view of the method”. “The President of the Republic will send a letter in the coming days summarizing the discussions and the proposed avenues of work that everyone can amend to continue the discussions on this basis”, also indicated a source close to the Head of State to BFMTV. . But nothing that is not addressed to French citizens.

If we should not therefore expect announcements from Emmanuel Macron, the latter has already wished for the renewal of this political meeting “in the same format, under the same conditions” according to the declarations of his entourage to AFP . It is still necessary that the eleven leaders of the political parties invited agree to repeat the experience after the mixed results of this first test.

The meeting between Emmanuel Macron and the oppositions was held in the greatest discretion. Neither policy advisers nor cell phones were allowed into the meeting room. As for the press, it could not go further than in front of the steps of the education house of the Legion of Honor in Saint-Denis. We had to wait for the participants to leave to get feedback on the long hours of discussions, and none seemed convinced by the interest of the meeting.

If Olivier Faure, first secretary of the PS, highlighted exchanges “made in a very civilized and at the same time very frank manner”, the other forces of the left mainly pointed out the immobility of the debates and the categorical refusals, according to them, to the majority with regard to their proposals. “The referendum on retirement at 64 is no. Price blocking is no. The indexation of wages to inflation is no. The allowance for young people is no”, regretted the coordinator of LFI, Manuel Bompard denouncing “an above-ground president with no response to the priorities of the start of the school year”. Same return for PCF boss Fabien Roussel who concludes on the “points of disagreement” on several subjects: “I don’t see how we will overcome them, let democracy and the French express themselves”. As for the leader of EELV, Marine Tondelier, she sums up “we came, we saw, we were disappointed. The living world is collapsing. And these 12 hours of discussion seemed to me to be totally out of step with the environmental and social emergency.

On the right, skepticism reigns, as LR boss Eric Ciotti admits. “There were no particular announcements. […] We’ll see what [the meeting] leads to. I hope it won’t just be a communication operation,” whispered the deputy from the Alps. -Maritimes at the end of the meeting considering two scenarios: “At worst nothing will happen, at best some proposals will prosper, those that we have made, those that I have brought in particular on a recourse to the referendum of much more frequently. The RN is also waiting to see the effects of this meeting. “There is no conclusion for the moment. […] I told him what was on my heart, we will have to see what follow-up the president wishes to give, I hope to make him realize that the country can no longer continue in this direction,” said Jordan Bardella.

In contrast to these reactions, the government welcomed the major political initiative. “People who don’t talk to each other, who don’t get along, who don’t understand each other, who don’t think the same thing, have decided to talk to each other behind closed doors, have decided to exchange, have decided to share disagreements and disagreements, and this, until the middle of the night”, underlined the spokesperson for the executive at the microphone of Franceinfo the day after the “meetings of Saint-Denis”.

Emmanuel Macron validated a proposal coming from the left: the creation of a “social conference” on salaries, concerning in particular “careers and branches located below the minimum wage”, the information was confirmed to AFP by the entourage of the head of state. This is the only concrete line of work, resulting from the discussions, at this stage.

In addition to the proposals, these are requests for referendums that the leaders of the opposition parties defended during the meeting. The right and the extreme right, represented respectively by Eric Ciotti and Jordan Bardella, had migration policy in their sights, and wanted it to be put to a referendum. And on the left, the Nupes called for a referendum on the pension reform, only a few months after its adoption and when the bill is due to take effect on Friday, September 1, 2023.

None of these referendums was retained at the end of the meeting. All the participants “agreed initially to start work on the field of the referendum first of all”, Emmanuel Macron’s entourage told BFMTV.