Macron’s triumph in the French presidential run-off would come as a comfort to all those who feared political instability at home and abroad if far-right competitor Marine Le Pen had won the keys to the Elysee.
However, the fact that the moderate, the Pro-European president has retained power does not guarantee an easy road ahead.
France is a divided society, and Macron remains a very unpopular figure among a sizable segment of the public despite his victory.
The first term of the president was defined by the “Gilets Jaunes” (“yellow vests”) rallies, some of which veered dangerously close to rebellion. It was buffeted by the Trump administration, Brexit, and the Covid epidemic, before eventually collapsing under the weight of the Ukraine conflict.
Macron’s second term might be just as perilous. Euronews examines some of the upcoming obstacles.
Macron Requires a Parliamentary Majority
To begin, the president requires the formation of a new majority administration. In June, the country will vote in new legislative elections. Macron won a landslide victory in 2017 on the strength of his presidential victory against a demoralized opposition, particularly among the traditional left and right.
In 2022, he confronts a formidable opponent, not least from Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hard-left “La France Insoumise” (“France Unbowed”) movement, which finished a solid third in the presidential election’s initial round.
Mélenchon has already staked his claim in the upcoming parliamentary struggle, challenging the president to appoint him prime minister.
Macron, on the other hand, may profit from the voting process, which is likewise divided into two phases for legislative elections. In the race for the Elysee, he had already snatched a sizable number of votes from the now-defunct center-right and center-left establishments on his first effort.
Another aspect working in his favor is that Le Pen’s presidential threat may not be replicated in the legislative vote, since the far-right appears to be split between her camp and that of nostalgic authoritarian Eric Zemmour.
“I believe (Macron) will do well, if not exceptionally well, in the June elections. He will not perform as well or as convincingly as he did the last time. He didn’t have to run on his record the last time he was new if that makes sense,”
Douglas Webber, emeritus professor at INSEAD’s business school, told Euronews.
“To win a majority in the legislature, he will almost probably require aid from other political parties, and he may find enough MPs on the mainstream right and elements of the more moderate left, as well as the remnants of the Socialist Party and, most crucially, the Republicans, to do so.”
Despite His Success, Macron May Face a Reaction
Macron was elected president in part as a result of additional votes “given” to him to keep Le Pen out, despite anger against the so-called “Republican front” that united to reject her father 20 years earlier.
Many on the left, whether they voted for Macron grudgingly or not on Sunday, may grow even angrier with the man in the Elysee as he begins his second term.
The first round of France’s presidential election confirmed the emergence of three freshly established blocs: Macron’s pro-European centrists, Le Pen’s nationalist insurgency, and Mélenchon’s extreme left.
Each enjoys around a third of the public’s support. Apart from their opposition to the president, his movement, and the establishment, the “left” and the “nationalist” have little in common. Two-thirds of voters opposing the government will not make it easier.
“France will remain a highly divided country for the foreseeable future. Macron can count on, or has the backing of, less than one French voter in every three, 28 per cent in the first round, 27 per cent in the second round.”
The president has already stated that he plans to begin pension reform in the autumn, intending to raise the legal retirement age to 65 — though he pledged to be flexible during the campaign. If observers in France are seeking a new source of demonstrations, here is an easy recommendation.
According to Webber, Macron would have significant obstacles in accomplishing his domestic political agenda and enacting major changes.
“Even if he secures a majority in parliament for big initiatives such as pension reform, he is likely to face extremely significant resistance outside of parliament in the shape of protest groups, similar to those that opposed reform demonstrations during the previous five years.”
Thus, a resurrection of the ‘yellow vest’ movement is possible if, in particular, the cost of living continues to rise or accelerate.”
Renewal Of France’s Climate Policy in Its Entirety
Between the two rounds, in a scarcely hidden attempt to court left-leaning voters, Emmanuel Macron pledged reform of climate policy to a gathering of supporters in Marseille.
The next prime minister, he claimed, will have direct responsibility for environmental planning, backed up by two ministries to supervise the green transition and execution — a proposal that is very similar to Mélenchon’s.
Macron ran through the rest of his manifesto’s major points: energy conservation, nuclear power (six new-generation reactors with studies underway for eight more), significant investment in renewable energy, including 50 offshore wind farms by 2050, increased rail and river freight, addressing air pollution, and tree planting.
Additionally, the president wishes to build an entirely French electric vehicle sector with greater access through a leasing scheme. There would even be an annual “Fête de la nature,” modelled after the long-established and successful musical tradition.
Environmental groups have questioned Macron’s seriousness throughout his first term, dubbing him the “president of climate inaction” or the “president of little moves.” He and Le Pen were both chastised for failing to discuss any green problems during their television debate.
The EU’s Ambitious Overhaul
Since his election win in 2017, when his celebration rally mimicked Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the European Union’s anthem, Emmanuel Macron has made deeper European integration a central focus.
This time, despite arguably less emphasis on Europe during the campaign, the president described his platform as one of “national and European sovereignty.”
His European aspirations include “energy and strategic” autonomy, a revision of the Schengen free-trade zone that strengthens the EU’s exterior frontiers, and a single refugee policy. Macron also wants European countries to strengthen their defence capabilities and to make a concerted effort to bolster Europe’s technology industry.
Macron proposes social and economic measures to relaunch the economy, including an EU-wide fuel tax, EU standards enforced in trade treaties, and a minimum wage and gender equality directive.
Finally, he and the European Commission aim to construct a six-month civic European service programme for young people that would include academic or vocational exchanges or volunteer work.
Ukraine’s Balancing Role During the Conflict
Emmanuel Macron has endorsed EU sanctions against Russia for the Ukraine war, his administration indicating it will examine a restriction on Russian oil imports. The president referred to Russian atrocities in Bucha as “war crimes” and urged the international prosecution of perpetrators.
Nonetheless, he has always urged communication with Moscow, backed up by “firmness.” Barely three weeks after Macron’s election win in 2017, Vladimir Putin travelled to Versailles amid great pomp and ceremony, despite tensions over Syria and Ukraine. He also paid a visit to the summer residence of the French president in the south of France, ahead of the G7 summit.
In the long run, such sessions failed to alleviate tensions. Macron’s many phone contacts with his Russian counterpart last winter, while Moscow’s soldiers amassed around Ukraine’s borders, did not prevent Russia from declaring war.
On Friday, the French president told French radio that he “does not rule out” speaking with Putin again, but the objective may be quite minor, such as getting humanitarian access to Mariupol.
He cautions against a permanent breakdown of ties and emphasizes the importance of influence in the case of a truce. He stated on France Inter,
“Europe must be represented at the negotiating table. We must all exercise extreme caution. We must avoid a situation in which, as a result of our decision to stop speaking with President Putin, the negotiators are the Turkish or Chinese presidents or others.”
Macron asserts that France and Europe should resist direct military intervention in Ukraine, which he claims will exacerbate the situation or perhaps spark a “new global war.” Sending tanks or planes, he believes, would constitute “co-belligerence.”
Edited By: Khushi Thakur
Published By: Bhavya Dedhia