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Why is Macron abolishing France’s school for the political class? | Philippe Marlière

With Marine Le Pen rising in the polls, the president has turned his attention to the ENA, a symbol of inequality

On Thursday 8 April, Emmanuel Macron announced the closure of the prestigious École Nationale d’Administration, France’s elite school for turning out senior civil servants and politicians. The president’s announcement sounded familiar – he had already pledged to reform the ENA, a school renowned for its conservatism and aversion to change, back in 2019 – but this time it’s final: Macron said that the time had come to abolish an institution that is widely regarded as a symbol of elitism and inequality.

With just a year until the next presidential election, Macron is neck and neck in the polls with Marine Le Pen. The ENA abolition looks, therefore, as if it’s part of a strategy to reconnect with “the people”. It’s easy to forget, given the pandemic, but before France entered lockdown in March 2020, it had been experiencing the most sustained anti-elite movement for generations in the form of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests. Macron has certainly has not forgotten this.

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