Flexibility is a virtue in a leader, especially when it comes with a knack for reading the public mood and a gift for timing. To his credit, French President Emmanuel Macron demonstrated a number of these traits. After three successive weekends of street protests, the worst in 50 years, he withdrew a widely resented plan to increase diesel prices.
And after protesters hit the streets again at the weekend, underscoring the depth of discontent simmering through France, he has decided he must address the nation in the coming days. It has been a steep fall from favour for the liberal, internationalist leader who came to power by attracting voters sick of traditional politics, and by promising reforms to boost a sluggish economy.