Who is France’s new President?

A star is born – that’s how Emmanuel Macron must have felt after the votes were counted. Just three years ago, he was still a relatively unknown politician. His central party – La République en Marche – was created only one year ago. Apparently the French were weary of both the traditional right and left parties.

President Emmanuel Macron

Voting:

After Brexit in England and Trump in the USA nobody was sure of the French voting outcome. The voters were also unsure for whom to vote (26 % didn’t). Some said it was like voting between “pest and cholera” – some just voted for Macron to counter the far right party Le Front National.

Emmanuel Macron, 39 years old, finally got 65, 8 % in his favour and Marine Le Pen 34,2 %. She admitted her defeat and in her farewell speech she said that the party needed a renewal. What that means, we’re still unsure of. Marion Maréchal Le Pen, the youngest member of the Le Pen clan, resigned. However the far right is still active and far from beaten. An opposition to be counted on for the young President.

The Parliamentary elections in June will show in which direction the voters want to go. Will the new party La République en Marche get a majority or will he have to reign in cooperation – “cohabitation” – with other parties? Nobody really knows how many voted really for Macron and who gave him his vote to oppose Marine le Pen.

The Louvre:

Macron’s first speech after his victory was very sober and somewhat dreary. His next speech, later that same evening, however was well choreographed and presidential. From the Louvre, the young President marched alone towards his destiny and climbed up to a podium with the glass pyramid as background. From up there he gave an inspiring speech to his supporters. He looked majestic with the top of the pyramid “crowning” his head, as an aura. The ancient buildings weighed heavily with all their historical importance while the glass pyramid symbolised modernity.

He talked about his responsibility to unify the country, looking forward to a common European front, the importance of leaning on history and bring hope to the youths and the excluded, about the climate changes (that hasn’t been much talked about during the campaign), new technologies, gender equality, the place of culture in society, pluralism but also the importance of combatting terror. The public was essentially composed of youngsters hoping for a new start for France.

A portrait:

These past days after Emmanuel Macron’s victory documents about his life, books, experts and old friends have emerged to give the French an idea of the man behind the politician. He comes from a middle-class family where he learned that through education one can go far in life and that nothing is “written” in the stars.

Anne Fulda has written a book about him: “Un jeune homme si parfait” – such a perfect young man. She describes his interest for literature, music, theatre, his beloved grandmother, liked by his teachers and unaffected. His ambition and stubbornness have led him to the podium. However he also has the capacity to listen to others and to learn; he’s since a tender age taken to elderly mentors. It wasn’t until the final face to face with his opponent Marine Le Pen that he showed another face, that of a frank and decided man who wasn’t easily destabilized.

His wife said that “I’ve always thought that he would go far but I was thinking about literature and not politics! He continues to surprise me!”

He needs to get a majority in the Parliament in order not to end up as a marionette President in the hands of the opposition. To appease these he carefully chose a Centre-Right Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, 46, ancient mayor of Le Havre. He can’t let his voters down and has to renew the government with a new and gender equal team.

The battle is far from won for France’s new star. It shall be interesting to see how politics develops these coming days for the world’s fifth nation.

Anne Edelstam, Paris

 

About Anne

Swedish journalist, photographer, editor and writer. Based in Paris, France.

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