DONE AND DUSTED ?
No, just the easy bit. Emmanuel Macron may have won the French Presidency but his victory celebrations are likely to be short-lived.
The 3rd round of the French elections will be held on the 11 and 18 June to elect the 577 members of ‘the 15th National Assembly of the French Fifth Republic’.
Arguably, these elections will be the most important in modern French political history.
On the face of it, Macron’s win has been convincing. However, only around 25% of his electoral support is estimated to have come from committed En Marche supporters with the rest going to him from voters who supported various other first round candidates and who were determined to keep Marine Le Pen of the extremist Front National out of the Elysee Palace.
As an independent, and unless his movement wins a significant number of seats in parliament, Macron will find it an uphill struggle or near impossible to legislate his proposed reforms. Youth unemployment of 25% and some 60% of income being derived from the public sector, are only two of the major economic problems with which he will have to contend.
With his election, badly needed restructuring in the Labour market, the problem of immigration, lack of investment , and the general French hostility to globalisation, do not disappear. He has also promised radical reforms to the pension system which will bring fierce worker opposition, and a 60bn Euros cut in public spending.
France could very quickly return to the days of unstable government, despite the peculiarly French practice of ‘cohabitation’ which may come to exist between Macron and the French Parliament. Macron has threatened to overcome parliamentary opposition by ruling by decree. However, the danger for him in going this route is to send the people into the streets, something he will obviously seek to avoid at all costs.
Essential to his plans for serious structural reform to the EU together with his ideas for deeper French integration within that entity, is Macron’s repeated criticism of German trade surpluses. The latter will win him no favours in Berlin. Let’s see how long he and Merkel remain in the mutual admiration club.
Indeed, we do live in interesting times.