Five months after visiting Whirlpool, a laundry factory briefly marked for closure, French President Emmanuel Macron returned to the scene for a publicity photoshoot celebrating French industry in the face of globalization and post-industrialization. When he last visited, he was ambushed and upstaged by then-opponent, Marine Le Pen, one of the main French presidential candidates at the time, who gained strong support in the region despite Macron’s childhood ties to the area.
After a highly publicized strike, the factory was saved from closure this past month by a local industry group which promised, with help from the state, a €20 million investment in the plant over the next three years. The new owner will keep on the majority of the plant’s staff, almost 300 workers whose jobs were saved by this event. Macron returned to Amiens to celebrate the factory’s preservation before a trip to a new Amazon logistical center, which is intended to bring 500 jobs to the region.
According to Macron’s detractors, this grand display is simply a pat on the back for Macron, and he has a lot more work to do if he wants to protect French industry from outside forces. Macron’s controversial labor reform bill has stirred many to protest across France, and as the weeks unfold we will see whether or not Macron is truly, as they say, “the president of the rich.”