Macron Gets France

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

Emmanuel Macron has replaced Francois Hollande as the new President of France, by defeating far-right Front National candidate, Marine Le Pen, by a wide margin in the 2017 election.

Sworn at Elysee Palace at 39, he has become the youngest President of France, since Napoleon.

His political slogan, Ensemble, La France, has struck a chord with the French masses, who have hailed his vision, for a progressive democracy. The election result shows that Socialist Party is on a decline, and it also shows National Front’s inability, to become a political power.

A former investment banker, Macron finally landed up as Hollande’s political protégé. He worked for two years, as an economy minister, in the last socialist government, but had never run for public office. As an independent, centrist candidate, Macron decided to take his chances without the backing of Socialist Party, and eventually won.

Macron wants to elect members of civil society, to the parliament and, is also working to balance the male and female candidates. He is hopeful for getting an absolute majority in Parliament, that in many ways, would be a litmus test for him. Nevertheless, he wants to set French democracy, as a benchmark in world affairs.

France is widely regarded, as one of the best countries, in the world, in terms of labour laws. Macron, like his predecessors, wants to prioritise trade union matters, as well. In his tenure, a process for simplification of labour laws, for laws, such as French administration laws, will soon become a reality. It will be enacted through a new decree, that will fast track parliamentary processes through reforms.

His fifty billion Euros Nordic economic model, is mainly concentrated on ecology, decreasing housing taxes, increasing social welfare, initiating training programmes, and modernisation of services. He wants to make budget savings, to shrink government deficit, in next five years, and has also promised a reduction in taxes, for corporate businesses.

Macron also has three other bigger challenges in front of him. He has to control high public spending, tighten security, reduce unemployment, surge the economic growth, and end the current Northern Mali conflict.

Many analysts are viewing the election of Macron, as a good thing for the EU. At a time of high immigration influx, bad economic situation, Trump’s anti-EU stance, and Brexit, European Union is at the brink of collapse.

Although being a defender of the EU idea, Macron has warned that unless and until EU doesn’t make new laws, to sustain itself, frustration among common masses will reach new heights, and will be detrimental, for the region.

His populism is genuinely pro-European though. He wants a separate Finance Minister, a separate budget, issuance of joint bonds, and completion of a banking union, for the EU. Many view these demands as highly ambitious, despite the fact that the EU is suffering from chronic governance problems. But, the growth of French economy will give him a fair amount of credibility, in the EU policy matters.

In order to end country specific political monopolies, the differences between Germany and France on EU issues will need harmonisation for better prospects for the region.

Germany still prefers a simple European monetary fund, only to be used during emergencies, and does not endorse the European common budget. With the result, a stronger political resolve is needed to end the EU crises, because, in the end, a stronger Europe, can become a primal example, for the rest of the world.

In terms of immigration, Macron does not support closing French borders but believes that the French language is mandatory, for social integration. In a world, where immigration discourse has become parochial, looking at the attitude of several countries, around the world, France prefers to be open. He has shown sympathy towards asylum seekers, and immigrated communities, who have faced deep social stigma, discrimination, and racism.

However, there are arguments, where it is believed that Macron will no longer be different from his predecessors, in terms of France’s pro-Israel policies. He has dumped a parliamentary candidate, who refused to be part of a communal gathering, by a French Jewish organisation (CRIF), that endorses a major Israeli political lobby.

It would also be interesting how Macron will keep his political attitude with the United States, and Russia. Macron shares adversarial views, with Donald Trump, on NATO, climate change, Muslim travel ban, and protectionism. He has publicly spoken of economic sanctions, against Russia, for their actions on Ukraine, and the relevance of Minsk Protocols for peace with Ukraine.

Macron has promised to keep French politics transparent, as much as possible. Individuals with criminal records, will not be entertained for running for office. French parliamentarians would be subjected to taxation, and would not be allowed to hire family members, as parliamentary advisors, or assistants.

There are also plans of reducing time frames, for debates in parliament, and reducing parliamentarians, in each chamber to mend bureaucracy. Introduction of digital democracy, to broaden participation, and reducing election costs, are some of his other plans, to strengthen democratic institutions.

These blueprints for political change would be viewed, as a welcoming decision, by many of his fellow socially concerned politicians.

It is also an opportunity for Macron, to unite his country, and to appease those, who have not voted for him. If democratic institutions are made more responsive, for French citizens, it would make many of his voters think that they have chosen wisely.


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