PSHE | History

The 44-year-old who wants to rule the world

Is Emmanuel Macron now the most powerful leader on Earth? As America and China struggle, he will lead the world’s second-richest economy and, some say, its leading superpower. The French people held their breath as they waited for the results. Would Emmanuel Macron become the first president for 20 years to be re-elected, or would there be a shock win for Marie Le Pen? In the end, Macron won, with 58.54% of the vote. In his victory speech he promised to be a “president for all”.   Macron is the most powerful of Europe’s presidents. He appoints the prime minister and can dissolve parliament; he is also head of the armed forces. His far-left opponent Jean-Luc Melenchon called the system a “presidential monarchy”. Macron certainly has grand ideas about himself. When he was first elected he said he would be a “Jupiterian” president. Now that Angela Merkel has retired, he is poised to be the EU’s most influential leader. “A lot of strong voices are gone,” notes French journalist Sabine Syfuss-Arnaud: “Boris Johnson, swept away by Brexit; Sebastian Kurz, by a corruption case… Viktor Orban, by his authoritarian attitudes… Olaf Scholz is known neither for his charisma, nor for his ability to wax lyrical.” The EU is being hailed as the next great superpower. The US is deeply divided and has suffered embarrassing failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. China’s economy will suffer as other countries try to become more self-sufficient. Russia’s prestige is gone thanks to the war in Ukraine. The EU, meanwhile, has become more unified. It is admired for its quality of life, high levels of education, and respect for human rights and the rule of law. Macron’s success demonstrates the power of élites. The journalist Andrew Gimson describes him as “surrounded by people who like him went to France’s top universities.” He studied philosophy, wrote a thesis on Machiavelli and Hegel and later became a banker.  Is Emmanuel Macron now the most powerful leader on Earth? Mytherious power Yes: Germany is France’s only rival as a leader of the EU, and Macron is far more charismatic than Olaf Scholz. Moderate, prosperous, progressive Europe sets a standard for the rest of the world.   No: France is as divided as the US, and Macron’s party may not have a majority in the next parliament. The EU cannot control members such as Hungary, let alone dictate to the rest of the world. Or... The head of a democracy will never be the world’s most powerful leader – only an autocrat like Putin can be. True power means being able to do what you like, not being held back by a parliament. KeywordsJupiterian - In Roman mythology, Jupiter was the king of the gods.

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