Mr. Macron embarked on a national debate to probe the causes of the revolt and, on April 25, 2019, announced for the first time that his alma mater would be eliminated. It was a powerful symbolic gesture, but it met with opposition and two years passed without follow-up. The ENA, it seemed, would survive after all.
Earlier this year, during a visit to Nantes, the President announced a program called ‘Talents’ intended to ensure that when it comes to elite schools for high-level positions in the public service, “no kid in our republic ever says it’s not for me. “
Among the measures announced at the time was the designation of several places per year at the ENA for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, in particular the dismal projects on the outskirts of large cities where many Muslim immigrants are concentrated. Thursday’s statement made it clear that this program will continue at the new institute.
Mr Macron has made modernizing the French state a priority, pushing to eliminate excessive bureaucracy and create a more efficient and performance-based civil service. It is a work in progress.
The president has been criticized for focusing his energy on attracting voters to the right of the political spectrum in an attempt to stave off a challenge from right-wing leader Marine Le Pen. In this context, honoring a decision initially taken in response to the yellow vests movement and aimed at promoting social mobility and greater diversity in high-level government positions appeared important.
“Among the vital problems in France, there is one that you are aware of on a daily basis: it is the complete divide between the base of society – workers, retirees, the unemployed, young people, students – and the ‘supposed elite,’ François Bayrou, a political ally of Macron, told France Inter radio.