For one weekend, the hexagonal political debate seemed to shift from Paris to Aix-en-Provence (Bocuhes-du-Rhône). For two days the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, the Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, and the former tenant of Matignon Edouard Philippe followed each other in front of everything that France has of great leaders, economists and politicians gathered under the scorching sun of Aix-en-Provence on the occasion of the 22And edition of Economic Encounters. Passing around a cafe, answering each other through interposed screens, they seemed to make their pawns advance in turn under the eyes of amused observers in this “Davos Provencal” dedicated each year to the great challenges of the world.

“One might get the impression that he is prime minister”, a boss joked after Bruno Le Maire’s speech on Sunday 10 July. Lyrique, he had summoned the new government number two “the spirit of Toqueville” be the advocate of “Individual rights” threatened in large democracies such as the United States, that of Pascal for “his anterior, short-term thinking, and posterior, long-term thinking”, the one of “Lights” who does what “France has something to say” on the international stage against “The great divergence” between Europe and developing countries. “A country always needs direction, to know what is essential. For me it is education and culture “then detailed the tenant of Bercy. “Here, he’s running a campaign”, murmured a banker in the room, tapping on the smartphone.

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The day before, it was Edouard Philippe, absent in 2021, who had all eyes in focus. Four years ago as prime minister, he sold his government’s reform program. This time, he exposed the difficulty of the task, mocking his own failed pension reform. “She was very smart, just very very complicated”, recognized. He adds: “Everyone does therapy how they feel, it makes me feel good! “

A message of optimism

However, it was Elisabeth Borne’s performance that moved the most, in an amphitheater so full that the security services had to reject the spectators. “People are not there to talk, they want to see the non-verbal”, decrypted a pattern. At ease with him, smiling, the jacket that falls at will dress code from the place where appearing in shirt sleeves is a prerequisite, she tasted the applause of a room that seemed to her acquired. The epilogue of a week of probation for the premier, accused by her appointment, even from her own field, of being too little political. She has tried to break her “techno” image of her by admitting to a few reporters that she has “good fun” seeing the indignant reaction of some opposition MPs during his general policy speech on Wednesday 6 July.

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