French voters head to the polls this weekend for the first round of a snap legislative election, and already the eulogies for Macronisme —the political style of President Emmanuel Macron , whose Renaissance party is expected to get drubbed—are rolling in. The important question to ask is which Macronisme, exactly, voters are set to bury. There are two.

One strand of Macronisme concerns what Mr. Macron has done. The hallmark here has been long-overdue reforms to unstick France’s jammed-up economy. Hence a labor-law overhaul early in his tenure designed to create a more vibrant job market for young adults. This also was the gist of a recent modest state-pension reform and a smattering of other agenda items such as the war Mr. Macron waged with railway unions as a down payment on a more cost-effective government workforce.

This side of Macronisme has worked. Economic growth has tended to be resilient (by European standards) during Mr. Macron’s tenure. Excluding the pandemic, and unlike his predecessors, he often has achieved growth above the eurozone average. As of April, the unemployment rate stands at 7.3%, down from a high of 10.5% under Mr. Macron’s predecessor François Hollande . Labor-force participation has increased to 74.5% from 72.1% when Mr. Macron took office. Monthly new-business formation has swelled.

The problem is the other facet of Macronisme, the Macron political method. The defining feature here is an imperiousness that would make Napoleon or Charles de Gaulle blush. The word “Jupiterian” emerged early on to describe the aloof mystique Mr. Macron cultivated. Observers have remarked throughout his tenure on how little advice he seems to take, and Mr. Macron’s public appearances often create the feeling of a divinity dictating rather than a politician persuading.

Embedded in this are two bad ideas about France’s political elite and its electorate: A technocratic governing class—of which Mr. Macron, product of the top schools and exactly the correct private-sector-and-government career track, is the ne plus ultra —knows what will fix France. And the ornery little folk will fall in line and do what they’re told if they’re told it with enough confidence by their intellectual betters.

Wrong on both counts. On economics, Mr. Macron’s most visible policy wins happened to be in a free-market vein, and that has obscured the confusion at the heart of his breed of technocracy, which can never quite bring itself to trust the entrepreneurial private economy.

If he were serious about liberalizing France, he wouldn’t also be throwing himself with enthusiasm at global gimmicks to boost corporate taxation. State spending as a proportion of the economy could have fallen below the 56.7% in 2016 that he inherited rather than rising to 58.3% as of 2022, even with the pandemic.

France’s technocratic political class also would have been wise not to overlook immigration for as long as it has. Mr. Macron and his ilk seem to have missed, or ignored, the social tensions that keep building as France struggles to assimilate migrants. Instead he became fixated on climate issues, which helps explain why he walked into the bear trap of the diesel-fuel-tax increases that stirred up the yellow-vest protests and permanently weakened his administration after 2018. Voters now refuse to pay any heed to Jupiter: He’s selling a solution they can’t understand for problems that don’t worry them the most.

This matters because, as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher understood, without a clear story of how change will improve people’s lives over the medium term, it becomes impossible to persuade voters to accept whatever short-term discomfort arises from reform. Absent that persuasion, Mr. Macron’s version of the imperial presidency looks less like Louis XIV than Louis XVI.

Alas, the good parts of his agenda now are as imperiled as his own career. Having implemented so many of his economic reforms in Jupiterian fashion via presidential decree rather than by forging a popular consensus, Mr. Macron has left those reforms vulnerable to reversal by politicians, such as Marine Le Pen on the right and Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the left, vying to oust his party from power.

The pity is that had Mr. Macron acted more like a normal politician, he might have been more successful. Economic reform remains a popular goal in Europe whenever a politician or party tries to persuade voters. This is one key to the improving fortunes of Spain’s center-right People’s Party. It’s how Germany’s Christian Democratic Union is revivifying itself after 16 years of Angela Merkel ’s woolly centrism, and it’s why Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wins elections in Greece.

While Mr. Macron loses an election in France, Nigel Farage ’s Reform UK has become the second-most-popular party in Britain in some polls, displacing the Conservatives, by fusing immigration restrictionism with the tax cutting the Tories refuse to do. If Jupiter is dead, long live mortal politicians.