DC Edit | After victory, Macron to face a lot of challenges
Deccan Chronicle. | DC Correspondent
Mr Macron's planned set of reforms should include stepping up nuclear power to stave off dependence on oil and gas
French President Emmanuel Macron (AP)
The collective sigh of relief in the US and the EU may have been heard in the far corners of the globe but Emmanuel Macron’s problems might be just beginning in France as he faces his people who may have voted for him only to keep the Far Right out. An eighth defeat for a Le Pen and second for Marine in a presidential election is a voter rejection of the Eurosceptic and anti-immigration stand even if in terms of figures the highest vote share ever for a hard Right candidate points to what may lie ahead five years hence.
The honeymoon may have hardly begun for Mr Macron, the President who projected an image of peacemaker in the Ukraine war that may have helped, when he faces the challenge of beating the Far Right and a determined Left who are intent on stopping him from getting a parliamentary majority in the June elections. Macron’s victory is creditable as he is the first governing president of the Fifth Republic to get re-elected — Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac were effectively in the Opposition when the polls were held.
Mr Macron’s planned set of reforms should include stepping up nuclear power to stave off dependence on oil and gas, besides rebooting the post-pandemic economy and raising the retirement age from 62 to 65 and otherwise playing up to labour to get over his elitist image that took a beating during the Yellow Vest Movement. Over 40 per cent of 18 to 24 youth stayed away from the polls, indicating how much wanted the President must feel in a nation as much in the throes of a cost-of-living crisis as any in the post-pandemic world.
The Ukraine war is raging on, which is why the EU must feel doubly reassured that it will keep presenting a united front against the Russian invasion though news is just emerging that France as well as Germany may even have sold weapons to Russia. Mr Macron’s biggest priorities may, however, lie at home where he has to walk the talk on healing the divisions the Big Centre versus Left and Right clash of poll politics created before swinging into the "third round" in June to ensure he has his own Prime Minister in place and not become a lame duck of a President.
Like most other nations pleased with the continuity that Mr Macron’s win signifies, India, too, must feel relieved over an ally from whom it has also purchased its latest war planes in the Rafales. Serving as a reminder that the world must stick together to tackle the fallout of the Ukraine war was the EU president Ms Ursula von der Leyen, who in New Delhi also conveyed a warning on the likely security impact on the Indo-Pacific from any China-Russia pact.
As a visitor to Bucha who saw the horrors of war first hand, she could convey more effectively what breaches of the rules-based world can bring. But, as with other Western economic powers, India feels sought after as a trade and security partner. In that sense, India’s neutral stand on the war, besides its condemnation of the atrocities, has not hurt its standing. It is, of course, moot whether this is owed only to India’s market size and technological capabilities in the Internet age or to a broader understanding of the complexities involved.