“Making the ENA the scapegoat for political renouncements would be a demagogic measure”

FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE – Emmanuel Macron should announce the replacement of the National School of Administration, during the presentation of his reform of the senior civil service. A pure communication operation, according to essayist Maxime Tandonnet.

A keen observer of French political life and regular contributor to the FigaroVox, Maxime Tandonnet has notably published “André Tardieu. The misunderstood ”(Perrin, 2019).

For the second time in two years, after the announcement of April 15, 2019, the abolition of the ENA could be announced by the President of the Republic. The period lends itself indeed to an operation of this kind. The current team in power had promised “a new world” in 2017. However, for lack of a new world, it finds itself plunged into indescribable chaos. After the crisis of the yellow vests and the social movement, the Covid-19 epidemic has resulted in a succession of disasters: around 100,000 deaths according to statistics, strangulation of individual freedom in the context of a chain of confinements and curfew, the ordeal of restaurateurs, traders, cultural professionals and students, the case of masks, then tests and today, commitments never kept in terms of the number of resuscitation places.

How, in such a context, not to give in to the temptation to throw this school as a food for popular vindictiveness, to make it the ideal culprit in place of the real leaders, that is to say the political decision-makers whose mission is to rule the country? And at the same time to trigger a psychodrama which will furnish the politico-media world and exert an opportune effect of diversion compared to the real problems of the French?

The official speech announces the replacement of the ENA by another equivalent school with another name. Would the operation therefore only be pure communication?

The official speech announces the replacement of the ENA by another equivalent school with another name. Would the operation therefore only be pure communication? Doubtless it cannot be reduced to this single dimension. By destroying the ENA symbol, the idea is to destabilize a mode of recruitment by work and personal merit. The project is part of the same logic as the abolition of the entrance examination to Sciences Po and the grandes écoles. Basically, it aims to facilitate a method of recruitment through co-option. The choice of ambassadors, prefects, directors of administration will be left above all to the discretion of political leaders, ministers, who will recruit collaborators in civil society, according to their networks of relations. However, where will they go to draw in priority? Undoubtedly in the traditional nurseries of political parties, which are the militants devoted to their cause, like what the UNEF was for a long time for the Socialist Party. We can also imagine that family, friendly and clan ties are in great demand. The danger is thus to encourage even more nepotism and cronyism in the future, that is to say a public service based on obsequiousness rather than on merit.

The accusation made against this school of promoting social inequalities is, moreover, fallacious. Statistics show, on the contrary, that it allows people from different backgrounds, without relationships, to rise through their work and intellectual performance alone to the highest level of the State. Certainly, like French society, the share of wealthy circles is overrepresented at the exit of the ENA as it is in all the leading or influential spheres. But what will happen when the recruitment of the senior civil service is delivered to family, political and clan networks? As for the received idea according to which the ENA is a “mold” of the single thought, it is particularly unfair since the “today’s enarques”, resulting from three competitions, of which the average age is around thirty, come from the most diverse training or professional backgrounds and that education takes place mainly in the form of internships.

The vast majority of former ENA students are senior officials who have chosen the beautiful profession of servant of the State and of their country.

Admittedly, the reproach of arrogance that is usually made at this school stems from the detestable behavior of a tiny minority of its former students who have used it as a springboard for a political career. However, these hardly represent more than 1 to 2% of the former students of an institution of which they are the gravediggers. The others, the vast majority, are senior officials who have chosen the fine profession of servant of the State and of their country, fulfill their mission in anonymity and discretion, in the face of sometimes difficult circumstances. They chose the path of the intellectual test of the competition to give themselves a job, prefect, ambassador, director of central administration, rather than the game of clan networks, family and cronyism that characterizes most other sectors of social advancement. . The ENA is obviously not untouchable and all ideas for reforming its recruitment and training methods are welcome. However, suppressing the ENA and making this school the scapegoat for cowardice, failures, renouncements and ambient stupidity, would be a demagogic measure.


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