French opt for hope and reform over negativity

EDITORIAL

After one of the most absorbing elections for a generation, Emmanuel Macron has been elected France’s youngest ever head of state. The challenge he faces is immense.

As expected, the 39-year-old former investment banker emerged a clear winner over Marine Le Pen with a projected 65.5 percent of the vote.

Macron has certainly brought a fresh face and he is the first candidate from outside the two big parties to become France’s president since 1958.

There was an element of luck in his rise. The Republican candidate Francois Fillon was effectively eliminated after a scandal involving family members being paid when not working in government. The major parties had already left the centrist vote to Macron by default, through their first ever use of primaries delivering candidates from the Republican’s right and Socialists’ more leftward bloc.

On top of that there was marked antipathy against Le Pen, an avowed anti-immigrant and anti-EU candidate. Despite her efforts to soften the image of the party her father founded, a Le Pen presidency was unacceptable to many who, some reluctantly, gave their votes to Macron.

Le Pen’s National Front party is stronger than ever, though. She got 11m votes and there is anger among the French public similar to that which propelled Donald Trump to the US presidency.

Macron’s win will be a huge relief to the European Union. The prospect of a French exit, or Frexit, would have been the death knell for the EU.

Macron faces a huge challenge in the need to revitalise a stagnant French economy. The Socialists remain the biggest bloc in the French Assembly and the elections on June 11 and 18 will be crucial for him.

He acknowledged that in his victory speech, saying “the task ahead of us is enormous”. He also vowed to spend his five-year term fighting the forces that divided and undermined France.

Only the French could have created a drama like this election. But France now has a new, young president with fresh ideas. His positive message won the day over negativity and discord.

After one of the most absorbing elections for a generation, Emmanuel Macron has been elected France’s youngest ever head of state. The challenge he faces is immense.

As expected, the 39-year-old former investment banker emerged a clear winner over Marine Le Pen with a projected 65.5 percent of the vote.

Macron has certainly brought a fresh face and he is the first candidate from outside the two big parties to become France’s president since 1958.

There was an element of luck in his rise. The Republican candidate Francois Fillon was effectively eliminated after a scandal involving family members being paid when not working in government. The major parties had already left the centrist vote to Macron by default, through their first ever use of primaries delivering candidates from the Republican’s right and Socialists’ more leftward bloc.

On top of that there was marked antipathy against Le Pen, an avowed anti-immigrant and anti-EU candidate. Despite her efforts to soften the image of the party her father founded, a Le Pen presidency was unacceptable to many who, some reluctantly, gave their votes to Macron.

Le Pen’s National Front party is stronger than ever, though. She got 11m votes and there is anger among the French public similar to that which propelled Donald Trump to the US presidency.

Macron’s win will be a huge relief to the European Union. The prospect of a French exit, or Frexit, would have been the death knell for the EU.

Macron faces a huge challenge in the need to revitalise a stagnant French economy. The Socialists remain the biggest bloc in the French Assembly and the elections on June 11 and 18 will be crucial for him.

He acknowledged that in his victory speech, saying “the task ahead of us is enormous”. He also vowed to spend his five-year term fighting the forces that divided and undermined France.

Only the French could have created a drama like this election. But France now has a new, young president with fresh ideas. His positive message won the day over negativity and discord.

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