How Macron's solemn Versailles address was little more than a campaign speech

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In a high-profile and highly-unusual speech before both chambers of the French Parliament in the sumptuous surroundings of Versailles on Monday July 3rd, President Emmanuel Macron claimed to be setting the “course” for his presidency. But, says Ellen Salvi, it turned out to be an hour-and-a-half of messages that had already been delivered during his election campaign and he announced little more than a promise of some institutional reforms.

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There was lots of gilding, solemnity and excitement. And then … nothing. On Monday July 3rd, addressing members of his government and of both chambers of the French Parliament in the grand setting of Versailles, President Emmanuel Macron served up what amounted to little more than a very long campaign speech. For an hour and a half the new president simply repeated what he had said many times over, first in his book 'Révolution' and then at every meeting and in every interview during his election campaign. “Under article 18 the Constitution allows the President of the Republic to speak before the Parliament that has gathered for this purpose in a Congress,” he stated at the start of his speech. “There are times when this possibility becomes a necessity. The times we are living through now is one of those occasions.” Indeed, one might reply: but it still requires the speech that follows to live up to such a ceremonial occasion.