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Macron: “I’m never late … since nothing should start without me”

Gathered Thursday afternoon near the Breil-sur-Roya station (Alpes-Maritimes), where donations poured in for the victims of bad weather in the South-East, the volunteers waited before the arrival of Emmanuel Macron. The president, held a few cables away at the bedside of the victims of Tende, is delayed. Already 35 minutes. “But we’ve seen worse! »Comments an advisor afterwards. Even if, casually, the Head of State will have so many delays on the official program that he will end, that day, by removing the last stage planned at the Prefecture of Nice …

In his entourage, this no longer surprises anyone. Him, this self-proclaimed president and master of clocks who never respects the schedules set by his teams. To constantly run after time, whether on the move, during work meetings at the Elysee Palace, or for press conferences. In sometimes unreasonable proportions.

“He’s a talker, a real pipelette”

Like that day in November 2019 in Amiens (Somme), where students hang out for two hours in an amphitheater when he has to exchange with them, while outside he multiplies an endless series of handshakes and selfies with young people. More recently, at the beginning of September, traveling to Clermont-Ferrand to talk about equal opportunities, Macron has a series of meetings in a high school then a training center before giving a speech that he will finish … with more than an hour and quarter of overhang on the initial course. “And I am not talking to you about the Council of Ministers which never starts on time! », Sighs a member of the government.

The reputation is not new. It goes back before the Elysee. “He’s a talker, a real pipelette. He wants to convince each of his interlocutors so much that he does not count his time. Suddenly, it systematically extends all his appointments, ”says a relative. He knows it and has fun in private: “I’m never late … since nothing must start without me”, smiles regularly the one who also has the habit of apologizing, according to another formula often used in front of his peers: “Please excuse me for this delay which is attributable only to me”. And a collaborator summed up the affair: “He never looks at his watch. From there… “.

Macronian time management

“But still happy that it works like this!” Exclaims a strategist of the macronie. A president who is a prisoner of his agenda is someone who is no longer in politics. However, in politics, you have to know how to be mobile, adapt to the unforeseen, take the time for emergencies. So obviously, it overflows ”.

For its teams, Macronian time management is a puzzle, even hell, that we nevertheless try to tame. “Material time is of no importance to him. When traveling, the time he devotes to talking with the French is more important than the official procedure. Once we understand that, we no longer make a problem ”, confides one of those who know him best, the ex-spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye, formerly responsible for the press at the Palais. “Please bear in mind that the French do not see a President of the Republic every four morning. If they want to call me out when I’m outside, I must give them this time, it’s my duty, ”Macron slips in front of his staff one day.

So over the years, the Elysee has adapted to these considerations to limit, as long as doing this little, the inevitable delays of the boss. With little tips. “When he makes a public outing, for example, there are what are called internally hidden minutes. That is to say that we artificially inflate the duration of a journey between point A and point B. That way, it is time that we can recover for the future, ”says an advisor. The president is not fooled. Like that day when he discovered an outing in the suburbs near the capital: “You have given me 45 minutes to cross Paris while we are in a presidential convoy. Isn’t that a bit much there? “.

Always plan wide

There are also the “reserved times” on his agenda. Sequences of ten to fifteen minutes, inserted at several times of the day, which theoretically allow him to isolate himself to consult messages and make calls as needed. “But if we are really late, we skip these moments to recover time”, we specify.

As for trips to the provinces, prepared in advance with the prefectural authorities, Macron’s teams also have a ploy: “In general, the prefectures offer us a program with an indication of the time between the stages envisaged. But they do not know that with him, we must always plan broad… so we systematically extend ”. Because at the end of the day, it is always the master of the clocks who has the last word.

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