The Head of State spent a few days between Christmas and the New Year at Fort Brégançon, the presidential residence on the Côte d'Azur, to, assures his entourage, "preparing for the start of the school year".

And he knows that this return to school promises to be perilous, both socially and politically.

On January 10, his government must unveil the pension reform project, the flagship of his program during his re-election in the spring.

Will he confirm the postponement of the retirement age to 65 years, or will he opt for a compromise solution, with for example a decline to 64 years coupled with an acceleration of the extension of the contribution period ?

Whatever formula is chosen, it should displease the unions, who are determined to fight in the streets against any age measure - without it being possible, at this stage, to predict whether this mobilization will be combined with other anger to turn into a social explosion.

After outbreaks of fever around fuel in the fall, then at the SNCF and among general practitioners during the holidays, the executive is watching for the spark that could stir up a major social movement.

In his televised address, at 8:00 p.m., Emmanuel Macron should not go into the details of the arbitrations, nor dwell on other risky reforms, such as that of immigration, expected at the start of the year.

2022 will have been a busy year, with the outbreak of war in Ukraine and its repercussions on energy prices and therefore on the wallets of the French, put to the test even though they are still suffering the upheavals of the pandemic. of Covid-19.

Wishes to health actors

However, at the dawn of 2023, the deadly conflict in Europe does not seem to find a way out, despite the calls for a long-term negotiation with Russia that Emmanuel Macron will perhaps repeat on Saturday evening.

And inflation is not about to slow down, while the threat of power cuts over the winter is not yet over.

Faced with this gloomy landscape, "the president will be keen to send the French people a message of unity and confidence", we explain to AFP in his entourage.

A constant of this exercise of wishes that the Head of State pronounces for the sixth time – the first of the second five-year term.

This is the presidential antiphon: the occupant of 55, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré would like to instill a little more optimism and consensus in this France which, under his leadership, has gone through a number of crises of all kinds.

At the Elysée, it is pointed out that it is the country of the European Union with the lowest inflation, that growth is resisting and that unemployment continues to fall.

"All of this is possible because of the public policies that are carried out but also because the French have responded", pleads an adviser.

In the same way, without having succeeded in forming a coalition or formal alliances after the half-hearted victory in the June legislative elections, the executive believes that it has overcome the threat of parliamentary blockage.

"France and the reforms continue to advance even with a relative majority", welcomes a member of the presidential camp.

Emmanuel Macron could briefly outline the other important projects of his second term, such as school reform or the overhaul of a health system that is out of breath.

As a sign of the priority nature of this last file, the president will send his wishes to health players next week to chart the course of his project.

The head of state must finally reassure those who, in his camp, draw a "contrast" assessment of macronism, like the Renaissance deputy Gilles Le Gendre.

He should certainly attract criticism from the opposition, from the left to the far right, including Les Républicains, who are also anxious to be offensive for the new year.

© 2022 AFP