Macron the ‘European’ elected French president

Out with the old: At 39 years of age, Macron is France’s youngest ever president.

The charismatic liberal Emmanuel Macron has emerged victorious from a divisive election. France’s new president is a passionate Europhile. Is he the man to save the troubled continent?

It was widely predicted. Even so, Emmanuel Macron’s victory in yesterday’s French election came as a relief to Europhiles. The new president, who had never been elected to office before, is a self-described European who welcomes immigrants and wants to develop the EU further.

Meanwhile, his defeated rival Marine Le Pen is a far-right nationalist who wants to shut down immigration and hold a referendum on France’s membership of the EU. France is the second most powerful country in Europe, and a President Le Pen would have posed a grave threat to the union.

That threat has passed for now. But Macron does not want to keep the EU as it is. He knows that Le Pen picked up over ten million votes, which speak to widespread anger at how the union is run.

He has called for “in-depth” reform of its institutions; while his proposals remain vague, he has criticised the current set-up of the euro zone for benefiting Germany at the expense of other nations.

But first, Macron must establish his mandate at home. Legislative elections will be held in June, and the president’s new party En Marche! lacks a strong political base. Should Macron fail to win a majority, his ability to govern will be limited. Is it too early to call him the EU’s saviour?

Je suis Européen

Yes, say some. Macron has yet to establish control over France, let alone Europe. Anyway, his victory does not change the fact that Eurosceptic parties are strong across the continent. The EU’s problems are too big to be solved by a 39-year-old novice.

That is unfair, reply others. Macron is just what the EU needs: a dynamic outsider who argues that the union is worth keeping, but needs changing. As the leader of France, he carries a lot of influence abroad. He cannot save the EU on his own — but it would have died without him.

You Decide

  1. Would you like to live in France? Why (not)?

Activities

  1. Imagine you have launched your own political party. What would be its name, slogan, logo and main policies? Put all that information on a poster.

Some People Say...

“Victory without risk is triumph without glory.”

— French saying

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
As president, Macron controls France’s foreign and defence policy, and appoints posts in the civil service and courts. He is more powerful than his counterparts in Germany and the UK.
What do we not know?
Whether Macron’s party can gain control of the legislature next month. It will field candidates in all France’s 577 districts, but its lack of money and experience could harm it.

Word Watch

New president
Macron will probably be sworn in on May 15.
Never been elected
Macron served as economic minister to the last president, François Hollande, before resigning and launching his own party last year.
Second most powerful
Discounting the UK, France is Europe’s biggest economy after Germany. Those two countries are co-founders of the EU.
Euro zone
The bloc of countries which use the euro as their currency.
En Marche!
The name translates roughly as “On the Move”. Macron avoids the word “party”, preferring to call En Marche! a “movement”.

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