From France, with Hope

Maïa de La Baume and Quentin Ariès write that the EU may breath a sigh of relief for Macron’s victory, but should not expect things to carry on unchanged, as the new president will push for EU-wide protectionist measures and for curbing Germany’s trade surplus, for establishing a new parliamentary assembly of the Eurozone composed of EU and national lawmakers, and a Eurozone budget and finance minister.

Janosch Delcker reports from Germany that not even Schultz is inclined to reconsider its national surplus, having declared that “we don’t need to feel ashamed of being successful. Our exports are the result of good work done here in the country.” While Germans are generally in favour of Europe, their enthusiasm decreases when it comes to paying more and may thus stand in the way of Macron’s ambitious reforms.

Paul Taylor comments on the “three faces” of France: the complacent, the rebellious and the optimistic. Macron stands for optimism, yet the last two decades expressed only complacent immobilism and social protests and they are likely to impact on the future. Alexandros Alexandropoulos observes that despite the high margin of victory, Macron still faces a divided country whose inability to print money means an increase in its borrowing to compensate for the pressures affecting its economy. Macron’s unbending support for the Eurozone means that he will be forced to implement a project of cuts that will keep the country in the euro, but destabilise French society.

Marta Lorimer writes that although early opinion polling has been encouraging for Macron’s En Marche! movement, he now faces the daunting task of securing a majority in the country’s upcoming legislative elections. While the president has significant control over foreign affairs, in terms of domestic politics he shares his powers with the government. If Macron fails to win an outright majority in the legislative elections, he will either be unable to push forward his ambitious agenda for change, or he will be forced to compromise frequently.

Natalie Nougayrède emphasizes Macron’s choice of playing the Ode for Joy at such a solemn moment as an immense symbol. Macron won with a strong pro-European message of hope and reform at a time when the EU is not very popular. His victory does not answer high unemployment or France’s other deep social tensions, nor does it instantly solve the problems of a much weakened Europe. But anyone doubtful about the meaning of Macron’s victory should really reflect on what the world would look like if he had been defeated on Sunday.

Olivier Tonneau, finally, argues that Macron may sincerely wish to improve life for the French people, but he cannot see that without radical change it will be impossible. In a three-hour interview he outlined his philosophy of history: liberal democracies have emerged out of the progressive enrichment of the bourgeoisie who, unfortunately, have lost sight of their responsibilities. Yet, unfortunately, Macron’s faith in the bourgeoisie fails to take into account the systemic pressures under which this class is: under an unbridled capitalist regime, profit-making is not fuelled only by greed, but also by economic necessity.

This Ideas Monitor is by Carlo Burelli and Alexander Damiano Ricci

Photo Credits CC Lorie Shaull

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Also published on Medium.

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