Old-fashioned Protestant work ethic is Macron’s plan

Simon Heffer, the renowned political commentator and historian, turns his gaze to French politics

A fascinating debate is bubbling along among intellectuals in France following M Macron’s election, concerning something the French political system is supposed to be completely free from: religion. In 1905 a law of laïcité formally separated Church and state. Most French people are notionally Catholic, and a significant proportion appear to be observant. The Protestant church in France estimates a following of just over a million people, or 2% of the population.

M Macron grew up in a secular household, and he has several times expressed his commitment to the idea of laïcité: but when he was 12 years old, feeling, as he has put it, the need for some “spirituality”, he asked to be baptised as a Catholic.

However, shortly after his election the leading French philosopher Régis Debray wrote an essay entitled Le Nouveau Pouvoir – The new power – in which he ...

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