The Big Picture

Vincent Boland: A vibrant civil society is a vital bulwark against the arrogance of power

French president Emmanuel Macron’s condescending style of leadership has turned all of France against him, but he’s far from the only leader these days to attempt to remake his country’s body politic in his own image

French president Emmanuel Macron’s heavy-handed approach to bringing in a later retirement age has sparked mass demonstrations in France. Picture: NurPhoto via Getty

When Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France six years ago, he quickly attracted the nickname Jupiter due to his style of governing de haut en bas. The Roman deity of that name was the most powerful of them all, the god of thunder. With his outsized ego and prickly personality, France’s young and impulsive new leader probably loved the comparison.

The rumble of thunder can be heard again in France these days, but on ...