Macron marches on to Berlin

French Macron supporters © Rex Features
La victoire! But can Macron follow it through?

Emmanuel Macron claimed an emphatic victory over his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, on Sunday, becoming the youngest French president in history. The 39-year-old former Rothschild banker took 66.1% of the vote, despite founding his En Marche! party just over a year ago.

Before turning his attention to Europe, Macron has “several mountains to climb” first, says Peter Foster in The Daily Telegraph. To govern effectively En Marche! needs to win a parliamentary majority without “either state funding, or a battle-hardened campaign machine” to drive it through France’s two rounds of parliamentary elections on 11 June and 18 June.

If it secures at least 30% of votes in the first round, with parties such as the National Front and the far-left Insoumise taking a combined 50%, all other moderate parties would be marginalised, “splitting too few votes amongst themselves for any significant parliamentary representation”. That would leave En Marche! as the “only reasonable option” for voters on 18 June, giving the party a “landslide” victory.

All being well, Macron then needs to “put his own house in order”, continues Foster. That means reuniting France and delivering “real, material improvements” to those “angry, forgotten suburbs”. He has promised to cut household taxes and reduce unemployment while cutting public spending from 57% of GDP to 52%. He is not asking for any leeway with regards to Europe, having committed to meeting the EU deficit target.

Macron’s ambitious programme for the eurozone (which “reads like a working paper from a federalist think tank”, according to the Financial Times) includes a common eurozone budget, financed by jointly issued bonds. By virtue of its size, Germany would be the main underwriter of the bonds, and Angela Merkel, while praising Macron for his “courageous, pro-European campaign”, reiterated her opposition to the idea on Monday. Merkel should tread carefully, says Martin Wolf in the Financial Times.

Germany must understand that “if a man as enthusiastic about the European project as Macron is  ignored, Marine Le Pen and the death of the European project wait in the wings”. That would be disastrous for Germany. “A eurozone that is seen to work well mainly for Germany will fail, maybe not tomorrow, but in time.”


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