On 14th May 2017, Emmanuel Macron created history as he formally became the youngest president of France. But as Macron keeps marching on with his success, a very important question arises –
What does his win mean for France?
As a former economy minister to president Francois Hollande, his economic policies formed a big part of his campaign.
In a failed attempt by Hollande to please the socialist elements of his party and going hard on companies, Macron as economy minister saw a change in direction over the past three years, bringing a more pro-business approach in his tenure. Corporation tax will gradually reduce from 33% to 25%, which according to many strategists, would allow companies to hire more people, tackling their ever increasing problem of unemployment.
As mentioned above, unemployment has become a problem affecting both young and old alike. With the unemployment rate in France as 10.1% and one in every four under 25s out of work, more than three million people who want to work and are looking for a job don’t have one.
Macron has said he hopes to get unemployment down by thinning some of the labor laws, with an aim of making it less onerous on employers to take on new staff. He also plans to let companies renegotiate the controversial 35-hour working week policy. However, The International Monetary Fund estimates that it will be hard to get French unemployment down much below 8.5% without major reform.
39-year-old Macron has said that he is dedicated to an outward-looking France, including maintaining its future within the EU. He is a strong supporter of the EU but wants it to implement reforms that would make it more accountable to members of the European parliament. Macron has long campaigned for greater co-operation and integration within the EU on fiscal, environmental and social regulation, a position that was at odds with that of his Eurosceptic rival, Marine Le Pen.
The former banker wants oversight of the euro currency, which France uses, to be overseen by a specialist eurozone minister, who would answer to elected officials. He also will ask Berlin to invest and spend more to help Germany’s domestic economy, which it is hoped will help French exporters and manufacturers in other European countries. However, all of this can only happen with Germany’s backing.
He has been candid in interviews about the need to address voter concern over the EU and says he will seek “in depth” reform of the bloc.
The centrist president-elect, has promised to prioritize dealing with asylum requests within six months and is in agreement with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approach to the refugee crisis and wants France to take in its fair share of refugees.
Since France has suffered a number of attacks by supporters of groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaeda, his proposals also include shutting down places of worship that espouse “jihadist” ideology, and to counter these threats, the president-elect wants to recruit 10,000 more police officers, and restore a network of field agents to combat Islamist terror. He has said that his top foreign policy goal is “to kill Isis” and called for greater co-operation with the US to do so.
ISIL attacks have also led to further deterioration of relations between the French state and the country’s Muslim community, which Macron sets out to address in his manifesto.
Despite all the victory roars, Emmanuel Macron still faces an immense amount of hardships.
Data released by the polling company Ipsos shows 43 percent of French citizens voted for Macron out of opposition to his far-right rival and just 24 percent did so because they support his policies or personality. To truly attain a victory, he would have to get the majority of seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections on 11th and 18th June through his party Republique En Marche!
The June elections will be the first test of Macron’s presidential authority. The independent En Marche movement currently has no parliamentary seats, and without the parliamentary backing, Macron will be unable to enact his reform proposals.
And this is just the beginning.
Although Macron may have been able to sell the idea of a young, optimistic, and reformed nation for the while, only time will tell how much he manages to deliver.