Emmanuel Macron has saved France from Marine Le Pen and her controversial Front National party, according to much of the media. Several years ago Dick and I were in Paris crossing the Tuileries garden and found ourselves smack in the middle of an FN demonstration at Place des Pyramids near the Louvre. Pseudo Brownshirts or not, flags might as well have been emblazoned with swastikas. And the accompanying military music was as unnerving to us as Ms. Le Pen evidently was to voters in the recent presidential election.
But is Emmanuel Macron the leader to cure France’s ills? In Mr. Macron, there is opportunity and danger, suggests Michael Brendan Dougherty in NRO. Like Donald Trump, he is a bit of a cipher. As Ms. Le Pen asserted during her campaign, one way or the other, France was going to elect a woman as president–either herself or Angela Merkel through Mr. Macron.
Emmanuel Macron is something of a cipher as well. Like Donald Trump, his first election campaign ended with him swiftly becoming president. But unlike Trump, Macron was basically unknown to his countrymen five years ago. A frustrated liberal reformer in François Hollande’s Socialist government, Macron ran as the leader of his own movement, En Marche! (Forward!), which barely qualifies as a political party. He received the elite fonctionnaire formation at the École nationale d’administration, and was quickly put on an ambitious track among members of the state’s Inspection des Finances. He also did some work in investment banking between jobs. He was a man from the inside, but he was an outsider to elective politics. A man who could make the system work. Or not.
And this is why many fear that Macron’s failure would mean the final discrediting of the establishment in the face of populist challenge. He will have difficulty commanding majorities in France’s national assembly. French people may not be ready to elect the Front National, but they are clearly unhappy with their sluggish economy and troubled or despairing about their nation’s failure to assimilate Muslim immigrants and their descendants. His liberalizing ideas for the French labor market are likely to inspire resistance on the left and right.
If Macron is to succeed, he must address France’s high unemployment and guide the country into “the position Britain now vacates within the EU, standing for a European Union that is economically liberal, and not tilted so precariously in favor of Germany. … In fact, for the sake of the French economy and the European Union as a whole, he must.”
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