Macron re-elected in France: uniting country and passing unpopular reform are president’s challenges | World

Re-elected on Sunday (24/4), French President Emmanuel Macron will face several challenges in his second term. One of the main ones will be to unite France after these elections and obtain support from the most popular classes, who mostly preferred to vote for radical candidates of the right and left (in this case, in the first round) or to abstain from voting. On this depends the strength of opposition that Macron may face after the June legislatives and the advance of unpopular measures such as pension reform.

According to partial results from the Interior Ministry, Macron was re-elected with 58.55% of the votes. Marine Le Pen, from the radical right, his rival in the second round, got 41.45%, the best result ever obtained by the National Assembly (also known in Portuguese as Reagrupamento Nacional, formerly the National Front) in a poll.

Abstention was 28%, one of the highest in recent decades.

Despite winning with a considerable advantage, even more so for an incumbent president, there was a considerable advance from the radical right of Le Pen, who in the second round of the 2017 presidential election had won 33.9% of the votes.

Macron’s victory by a good margin over Le Pen was made possible mainly by votes from the electorate of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from the radical left – who came in third in the first round, with 22%. Like Le Pen, Mélenchon also attracts mainly lower-income French people.

Macron was re-elected with 58% of the vote; Marine Le Pen, from the radical right, her rival in the second round, won 41% – Photo: Reuters via BBC

The objective of these radical left voters in voting for Macron in the second round was solely to stop Le Pen’s rise to power. But a minority part of Mélenchon’s electorate decided to opt for Le Pen, at the opposite end of the political spectrum, as a form of protest against Macron. The president has faced numerous criticisms for not having cared about the lower-income population.

In his speech on Sunday night, after the release of the projections that indicated his victory, held in the gardens of the Champs de Mars, with the Eiffel Tower in the background (in 2017, Macron had chosen the Louvre pyramid as the backdrop), the re-elected president acknowledged that France is divided and vowed to find “answers” to French people who expressed “anger and disagreement” when voting for Le Pen or who abstained in elections.

He also acknowledged that part of the voters voted for him “not to support his ideas, but to stop the extreme right” and said he wanted to take his project “strongly in the coming years, also being a depository of the divisions and differences that were expressed.”

Macron also said in his speech that “he is not the candidate of one camp, but the president of all” and promised to overhaul the method of governing France, saying that the coming years will not be “a continuation” of the current term. He also declared that “no one will be left by the wayside.”

French presidential election, percentage of votes in the second round — Photo: BBC

Reconciling the France of the upper middle class and large urban centers, in addition to the higher-income retirees who constitute Macron’s electorate, with the more popular France, from regions with higher unemployment or rural areas and small towns that opt ​​for Le Pen ( and poor peripheries, where Mélenchon performed well) is important for another Macron challenge: securing a parliamentary majority in the June legislative elections.

Traditionally, in the legislative elections that take place shortly after the presidential ones, the French vote for the party of the president who has just been elected to guarantee him a majority in parliament, which facilitates the beginning of his government. In 2017, Macron, who had never contested an election and had just created a party, accomplished the feat of winning a parliamentary majority from scratch.

But this time, with the recomposition of the French political scenario in these presidential elections, which, together with Macron’s centrist party, Republica em Marche, consolidated two radical forces – that of Le Pen and that of Mélenchon -, the task could be much more difficult. complicated. The president faces strong rejection in this part of the electorate.

In a speech on Sunday night, shortly after the release of the projections that indicated Macron’s victory, Mélenchou launched an appeal for voters to mobilize massively in the legislative, which he has been calling a “third round”, as a way of guarantee a defeat for the president in parliament and, in this way, “change the course” of France.

He has been urging the French to “elect him prime minister”. In reality, it is the president who chooses the prime minister after the legislative and not directly the voters. But if the head of state does not obtain a parliamentary majority, he must nominate a prime minister from the party that won the most seats in the vote. It’s called “cohabitation.” This is what Mélenchon awaits.

Marine Le Pen also took advantage of the announcement of Macron’s victory to launch, in her speech on Sunday night, the “battle of the legislative”, after her party had for the first time surpassed the 40% threshold of the vote, which she called of “great victory.”

Another considerable challenge for Macron will be to carry out his retirement reform, which envisages progressively raising the minimum age from the current 62 to 64 or 65 years (initially his program predicted 65 years, but in the face of disputes during the election campaign, he said he was willing to to discuss with union leaders the possibility of limiting the increase to 64 years old).

A challenge for Macron will be to carry out his retirement reform, which foresees progressively increasing the minimum age from the current 62 to 64 or 65 years old (Photo: EPA via BBC)

After the yellow vest crisis in 2018 and 2019, which started due to the increase in a tax on fuel and which turned into large protests, often violent, for the improvement of the purchasing power of the population, among other demands, the government fears a new social mobilization in the streets against the retirement reform project.

The measure will be discussed in the second semester, after the legislative elections. To guarantee a greater possibility of acceptance of this reform, Macron says that part of the savings generated with the increase in the minimum age will be used to finance the correction of pensions according to inflation (which does not happen in France) and that it could already be applied to from July.

President Macron will still have the challenge of dealing with a high public debt, which represents around 113% of GDP, and which has increased by 600 billion euros during his term. Nearly a third of this supplemental spending is due to the “whatever it takes” policy during the pandemic, where the government paid salaries during lockdown periods, in addition to a range of business aids and tax exemptions. In addition, with the reduction of economic activity, state revenues also declined.

This high public debt may reduce the government’s room for maneuver to apply measures aimed at improving the purchasing power of lower-income people, in the current context of rising inflation.

Furthermore, the international scene, with the war in Ukraine spreading, is an additional concern for Macron. “We are going through tragic times,” Macron said in his Sunday night speech referring to the conflict.

As the newspaper Le Monde says, it seems that the so-called “state of grace” experienced by a French president when he is elected, which usually lasts a few months at the beginning of his term, should not occur in this re-election of Macron.

See other international news

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

Check Also

Cats know each other’s names and the names of people they live with

In recent years, scientists have been proving that cats really do connect deeply with humans, …