Opinion DC Comment 09 May 2017 For Macron, tough ch ...

For Macron, tough challenges lie ahead

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published May 9, 2017, 2:06 am IST
Updated May 9, 2017, 7:13 am IST
The new French President is pro-reforms and business-friendly, but he promises to be a gradualist.
French President Emmanuel Macron (Photo: AP)
 French President Emmanuel Macron (Photo: AP)

The convincing victory of Emmanuel Macron, the creator of a barely year-old centrist political movement Le Marche! (Onward!), which is still not a political party, over Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right, anti-immigrant, National Front, whose stature has grown, is set to deflect a challenge to the very existence of the European Union and the euro, which Ms Le Pen’s victory would have sharpened.

Seen in this light, the world stays the way it was until Sunday, when the run-off for the French presidency was held. The win of the pro-Europe centrists in France, Europe’s major power along with Gerrmany, is the most convincing affirmation yet that mainstream Europe desires to stick with the EU, unlike Britain, which moved away last June after the Brexit vote.

 

The French election result confirms the mood produced by results in two smaller countries not long ago. It does appear French voters, despite their mistrust of establishment leaders, made apparent by the fact that the fight in France was against the entrenched Socialists and Republicans, took a lesson from Britain’s recent Brexit experience and the election of Donald Trump in the United States and rejected the dubious charms of nationalism as a political creed.

The new French President is pro-reforms and business-friendly, but he promises to be a gradualist. Perhaps this is a lesson well learnt from what happened in recent years in Greece, where an iron-fisted application of the free market doctrine under the guidance of the IMF and European bankers brought about the deepest problems to politics and the economy, and had left society teetering.

 

Mr Macron understands, as others in France do, that nearly half the country stood behind anti-capitalism and anti-free-market candidates in the primaries. He would also know that in the main the voters of the Republican, Socialist and Communist variety backed him principally to stop Ms Le Pen, whose party’s past is stained by collaboration with Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism and racism, although she is trying to jettison that image.

The new President thus has a massive job on his hands trying to heal the badly divided country in which Ms Le Pen secured as much as 34 per cent of the votes cast, almost double that of her father in 2002, and — if the presidential result is any guide — could be the main Opposition party in the French Parliament, for which elections are due to be held in June. Mr Macron still beat her handily, winning about 66 per cent vote. But nearly a third of the country didn’t bother voting as they did not see him inspiring enough. It’s against this backdrop that Mr Macron will have to seek to win a majority in the French Parliament. This is his immediate big task.

 

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