PARIS, FRANCE: In Emmanuel Macron’s traditional presidential portrait destined to adorn town halls across France, a pair of iPhones and a copy of national hero Charles de Gaulle’s memoirs lie on his desk.
The photograph is meant to portray a young, modern leader who is also the heir of the general who led resistance to Nazi Germany in World War Two and founded the Fifth Republic in 1958.
Cultivating this image from day one of his presidency, Macron rode up the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on May 14 in a military jeep instead of the traditional limousine.
He later tweeted a picture of himself being lowered on a winch into a nuclear submarine, and this week forced his military chief of staff to quit for criticising budget cuts.
Emmanuel Macron used the departure of General Pierre de Villiers to show he will brook no dissent from those around him and the depth of his resolve to enforce public spending discipline.
But his action has alarmed military chiefs and highlighted a risk that his strategy could backfire by making him look authoritarian, over-controlling and oversensitive to criticism.
“Emmanuel Macron is very keen to take on the clothes of General de Gaulle, he has understood very early on what he had to gain from a personal investment in the military field,” Jerome Fourquet of pollster Ifop told Reuters.
“But although he has scored points on the international scene and domestically by showing there’s a man at the helm, it’s unclear whether public opinion will consider this episode as an example of his capacity to decide, or a case of authoritarianism and an admission of weakness.”