Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won the second round of the French presidential election against Front National’s Marine Le Pen with 66.1% of the votes. The political differences of the two candidates couldn’t be more distinct. On the one hand Macron, who originates from the liberal left and seeks more European integration to resolve the current issues of both France and the European Union. On the other hand Le Pen, a right-wing and Euro-sceptic politician that wants to dismantle the European project and establish protectionist policies in the French Republic. Where Macron and his political movement stand and whether they can unite the French people again was thus up for debate at the Liberal Breakfast the Monday morning after the presidential election at the ALDE Party Headquarters in Brussels.
Major challenges ahead
Thierry Masson, a consular delegate and member of En Marche!, welcomed the election result but also emphasised that the real challenge is coming on 11 and 17 June, when the elections for the National Assembly will take place. Emmanuel Macron and his En Marche! movement have to gain a majority in the Assembly to secure the success of Macron in the long run. In case they cannot reach a majority in the Assembly, a political deadlock could soon stop the public enthusiasm for the 39-year old President.
In addition, Guillaume Périgois, Senior Adviser at Contrepoints, stressed that Macron’s policies do not go far enough to resolve France’s social and economic problems, and that he has to do more to unite the French people after this landmark election. In his view, the proposed budget cuts merely reflect the increased budgetary expenditure of his predecessor François Hollande, making his proposals to reduce the public spending no more than hot air.
Macron – A true liberal?
As a former member of the Socialist Party and Minister of Economy and Finance in the second Manuel Valls’ Cabinet, Macron pushed for business-friendly reforms before becoming politically independent in August 2015. In the same year, he described himself as a liberal in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde. Already under his term as a Minister from 2014 to 2016, Macron supported international trade agreements as the CETA and TTIP agreement, asked for structural labor market reforms, and classified France’s colonisation of Algeria as a crime against humanity. The founder of the En Marche! movement embraced liberal policies both in his time as a minister and in the presidential campaign. Nonetheless, the association with a European political grouping is not determined yet.
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