The ballots have been counted, and France’s new president is Emmanuel Macron. The En Marche! Party candidate, a former banker who worked for the outgoing socialist government before launching his own political party, won with 65 percent of the vote. He beat out National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who would have been the first woman president of France. Macron is the youngest French leader elected since Napoleon and the youngest French president ever.
The problem with Macron is his branding and his out-of-touch denial with France’s problems. Although Macron branded himself as a political outsider, that is simply not true. Macron attended a prestigious school for civil servants where many of France’s politicians are groomed for office. Macron was the Minister of the Economy, so he already worked in government. And Macron worked for years for the outgoing Socialist government, only leaving the party to form his own. Even after he created his own En Marche! party, he continued to work in President Hollande’s administration.
Because of France’s economic problems and severe problems with terrorism, the Socialist government lost a lot of popularity. Their approval ratings plummeted to an unbelievable 4 percent. Only 4 percent of French citizens were happy with the way things were going in France. This was understandable. During Hollande’s term, France fell victim to the bloodiest terrorist attacks in Europe when, in November, terrorists launched a coordinated attack that killed over a hundred people and injured hundreds more. This came only months after a terrorist drove a truck into a crowd, killing 86 people and injuring more than 400. Altogether more than 1,000 people were killed or injured by terrorist attacks in France. Mr. Hollande did not help his approval ratings by failing to fulfill promises he made to the people of France about their daily lives such as in regards to unemployment, and by making dismissive and derogatory comments about French citizens.
Therefore, Macron had to distance himself from the failed Socialist party. He created his own party, En Marche! The state of France was such that the National Front party candidate, Marine Le Pen, rose to prominence. This was unheard of. The far-right party was able to participate in the second round of elections and garner a greater percentage of the votes than ever before. Although Macron resolutely defeated her in the final run, the state of France is such that if Macron does not implement serious changes, more people will follow the trend of turning to far-right candidates.
Unfortunately, Macron does not promise any serious changes. Macron supports open borders and bringing more immigrants into France. When it comes to terrorism, Macron said that it is just a part of life that people have to cope with.
“This imponderable threat, this threat, will be a fact of daily life in the coming years.”
Although Marine Le Pen was criticized for her tough stance on immigration that included reinstating border security checkpoints and limiting immigration, Macron does not share any of those views, saying that they were based on fear. Even after a terrorist knife attack last month, Macron still did not seem concerned.
“I am not going to invent an anti-terrorist program in one night.”
Although he has laudable goals like increasing diversity and making the Muslim population of France feel welcome, this act of sticking his head in the sand is not reassuring. A few days after this comment, Macron had to fire one of his staff members for making pro-Islam, anti-French comments related to the killing of French cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo.
Marine Le Pen had an extreme view to create a “Frexit” and leave the European Union, which Macron definitely disagreed with. He is pro-EU and shares many goals with progressive leader Angela Merkel. But the prominence of the EU of France’s affairs caused Le Pen to send a scathing comment about Macron to voters.
“France will be led by a woman, it’ll be either me, or Mrs. Merkel. That’s the truth.”
Although Macron labels himself as a centrist who will unite the left and the right, we will have to see what happens. As it stands, the left is not happy to give France to a pro-establishment banker who lied about being a progressive and the right is not happy for more left-leaning policies.
[Featured Image by Theirry Chesnot/Getty Images]