Emmanuel Macron faces massive battle to gain seats in French parliament
Monday - 08/05/2017 06:42
EMMANUEL Macron might have won the battle to become France’s news President-elect, but the real war is still to come.
On Sunday, the 39-year-old former investment banker and finance minister took more than 66 per cent of the vote in the second round of presidential elections, beating his National Front rival Marine Le Pen who secured nearly 35 per cent.
It’s a remarkable feat for someone who formed his political movement just 13 months ago and does not have any MPs in France’s legislative assembly. But it’s also a sign the real work is just beginning.
Mr Macron now faces the massive task of convincing the French electorate he can be all things to all people, as he often seemed to promise during the campaign. In order to do that, he wants to secure a majority in the 577-seat legislature in June that will help put his policies into effect.
En Marche! Adviser Phillippe Colman said “half of it would be pretty realistic but less would be very probable,” signalling that they may work with MPs from other parties to push the centrist agenda.
“A lot of people didn’t vote for him … they voted against Marine Le Pen, so we need to convince them,” he told the BBC.
The President-elect is described as a pro-European centrist in favour of slashing France’s bloated public service that accounts for 50 per cent of the country’s national income. He also wants to reduce the 10 per cent unemployment rate that has hit under 25s the hardest, and work more closely with the European Union.
At the Louvre shortly after his victory, Mr Macron told the adoring and mostly young Parisian crowd “you won, France won,” in a result billed as a triumph of hope over fear.
“Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France,” he said. “We have the strength, the energy and the will — and we will not give in to fear.”
But across town with her own party faithful, Marine Le Pen hailed the arrival of the National Front as the official opposition. She is also looking to increase her majority in June and pitted the upcoming round of elections as the true “battle” between “globalists” and “patriots”.
“I will be at the head of a battle to gather all those who choose France,” she said. “Parties that have chosen to vote for Macron are no longer credible to be an alternative voice.”
Despite the apparent strength of the result, the fact remains that France is deeply divided. Mr Macron polled 24 per cent during the first round of elections compared to 21 per cent for Marine Le Pen. His victory in the second round was as much the failure of his rivals as a win of his own.
Furthermore, abstention rates reached record highs and 11 million voters opted to “vote blanc” — leaving their paper white in protest against the candidates.
As Mr Macron gains the keys to the Elysee Palace, European leaders have breathed a sigh of relief. The real challenge now is for the promised changes to be delivered. Their fate could be the price of his failure.