“La France doit être une chance pour tous.” The slogan for French President-elect Emmanuel Macron, which translates to “France must be a chance for all,” provides an empowering statement in a time of global crisis. Populism has become an epidemic in powerful countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. This past election has prompted a sigh of relief for those in support of sustaining the European Union (EU), whose last chance for success lies in France. However, this would not have been possible if the circumstances for Macron did not line up perfectly.
After the disappointing 2007-2012 term of President Nicolas Sarkozy, the French cried out to the socialists to fix all the problems Sarkozy was reluctant to fix, such as a lack of jobs and spending ability. However, President François Hollande has done little to nothing to improve France during his five-year term. His worst mistake–debatably–was his extreme tax plan for France: a 75 percent tax on people with high tier incomes. Ironically, this pledge, meant to cut taxes for the working class, was deemed unconstitutional and never put into effect. He also failed to create jobs and caused the unemployment rate to rise to 10.6 percent in 2016—an eighteen-year high. In spite of that, currently, the unemployment rate has dropped to slightly below 10 percent due to a last minute economic plan developed by Hollande. This drop was not nearly low enough for the people of France to be satisfied. With a 4% percent nationwide approval rate, Hollande did not run for re-election and was replaced by Benoît Hamon as the next socialist candidate. After a huge failure from the socialist party, the French were not expected to vote for them.
Former Prime Minister of France François Fillon, initially appeared to be the candidate most likely to win the election. However, after he was investigated for embezzlement of public funds when he paid his wife and children for work they did not do, his popularity strongly decreased, causing him to be defeated in the Premiere Tour (the first out of two rounds of voting during the presidential election). This had a favorable effect for Macron, who has never held an elected office and consequently could not have a corrupt political background.
France’s system of democracy allows representation from any party that can receive 500 signatures from elected officials. Therefore, there were many “third party” candidates that ran in the Premiere Tour who were not close to obtaining the votes they needed to advance.
Going into the Deuxieme Tour (the second and last round of voting during the presidential election), far-right conservative Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron faced off in a battle of unification vs isolation. Terrorist attacks in France have become a serious issue during the past few years, a phenomenon linked to a burgeon of support for the National Front led by Le Pen. Le Pen holds strong nationalistic views and planned to break away from the European Union so that France would not be forced to accept refugees. After she received the second-highest vote in the Premiere Tour, allowing her to move to the Deuxieme Tour, Republican and Socialist party leaders—amongst others—urged their supporters to vote in favor of Macron to prevent right wing extremism from corrupting France. This somewhat perfect scenario was not the only reason for Macron’s success. He campaigned using US-style mobilization techniques that somewhat mirrored President Obama’s method. Macron was able to obtain local volunteer committees that went door-to-door asking people to describe the changes they would like to see in French public policy. His political party, En Marche (currently rebranded as “La République En Marche”), also set up hundreds of small events each day across the country, attracting publicity and support for a movement that has, in a way, sprung out of nowhere.
Although largely unfamiliar to the French prior to the election, Macron was originally embedded in the socialist party and served in Hollande’s cabinet as his economic minister. He is still evidently lacking in political experience, but the French saw hope in him. Ultimately receiving 66.1 percent of the French vote, Macron won the election due to his approach to campaigning, the Socialist Party’s lack of progress, Fillon’s corruption, and Le Pen’s unsupported nationalism.
Being an influential 39-year-old who was able to hit the ground running and ended up winning, Emmanuel Macron promises an auspicious future for France. They are currently undergoing an economic crisis due to high unemployment, bloated public spending, and a low overall growth in the economy. For the past ten years, France has been searching for ways to fix these ongoing problems, so Macron was the perfect candidate to win because of his proficiency in economic policy.
He also holds strong views pertaining to the crisis that will affect the whole world: global warming. Macron believes it is one of the biggest issues that the world must face right now and even urged Americans working on climate change research to come to France, saying they are “welcome” there. During this message, he made comments on Donald Trump, saying, “your new president has decided to jeopardize your budget, your initiatives, as he is extremely skeptical about climate change.” He follows this by saying, “I have no doubt about climate change and how committed we have to be regarding this issue.”
A part of Macron’s economic policy is to increase spending for ecological reform in order to create new jobs in clean energy as well as save the world from undergoing the harsh effects of global warming. In reference to his foreign policy, he believes in keeping the EU intact and has already reached out to current and former global leaders in an attempt to work together on certain issues. Macron, without a doubt, demonstrates many good characteristics and provides a new hope for France.