23rd July 2017

Emmanuel Macron Takes Over Today from Hollande as President of France

By Sewell Chanmay (14/05/17)

Emmanuel Macron takes office from François Hollande as France’s next president on May 14, after defeating far right Marine Le Pen.

 

Francoise Hollande made the announcement a day after Mr. Macron, an independent centrist, defeated Marine Le Pen in a battle for the country’s leadership on May 7. (Pictured: Macron and his wife Brigitte).

Mr. Macron appeared beside Mr. Hollande at a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe to observe the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. He did not make a statement, but his attention will already have turned to the choice of a prime minister and to the legislative elections of June 11 and 18, when all 577 seats in the National Assembly - the lower, more powerful house of the French Parliament - will be up for grabs.

Expectations could hardly be higher. “Beyond the symbols, the new, optimistic president of this country in depression will have to demonstrate by concrete signs, very quickly, that he received the messages from this extraordinary campaign,” Jérôme Fenoglio, the editorial director of Le Monde, wrote in a front-page editorial.

Mr. Macron’s year-old political movement plans to field candidates - a mix of newcomers and more experienced figures - for all of the seats. In the meantime, he is expected to name a prime minister and a cabinet.

But if Mr. Macron’s party does not win enough seats, the Assembly could essentially force him to choose another prime minister.

The two mainstream parties - the Socialists and the Republicans - hope to reassert themselves in the legislative elections, as does the far-right National Front, led by Ms. Le Pen. The movement of the far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon also hopes to do well.

In short, the parliamentary elections could easily be a five-party affair, a reflection of the electorate’s fragmentation and a loss of faith in mainstream parties.

Richard Ferrand, the secretary general of Mr. Macron’s movement - En Marche! or Onward! - said at a news conference on Monday that the names of the party’s candidates would be announced on Thursday. Half will come from civil society, and half will be women. He added that members of other parties would be allowed to run under the centrist banner, on the condition that they vote with Mr. Macron’s government and sit in the majority group in Parliament.

And En Marche! will soon sound a bit more like a traditional party. Mr. Ferrand said the name would be changed at a congress in mid-July to La République en Marche, or Republic on the Move. Mr. Macron resigned as head of the movement after his election victory, and a temporary president has been appointed, Mr. Ferrand said.

Sylvie Goulard, a centrist member of the European Parliament who supports Mr. Macron, told the CNews channel on Monday that Mr. Macron would go to Berlin for his first trip outside France, but that he might first visit French troops posted abroad.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany congratulated Mr. Macron on Monday on his “spectacular” victory. “He carries the hopes of millions of French people, and of many people in Germany and the whole of Europe,” Ms. Merkel said at a news conference. “He ran a courageous pro-European campaign, stands for openness to the world and is committed decisively to a social market economy.”

Mr. Hollande has privately complained that he was betrayed by Mr. Macron, his onetime protégé, but he showed no signs of bitterness on Monday.

Mr. Macron resigned as economy minister in August to clear the way for a run for president. In December, Mr. Hollande, whose popularity plummeted during his five-year term, said he would not seek a second term.

“It is true that he followed me for many years, but afterward he freed himself,” Mr. Hollande said of Mr. Macron on Monday. “He wanted to propose a project to the French. It is up to him now, strengthened by the experience he has acquired with me, to continue his march. I wish him every success.”

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia joined a chorus of world leaders, including President Trump, in congratulating Mr. Macron.

“The citizens of France have trusted you with leading the country at a difficult time for Europe and the whole world community,” Mr. Putin said in a statement. “The growth in threats of terrorism and militant extremism is accompanied by an escalation of local conflicts and the destabilization of whole regions. In these conditions, it is especially important to overcome mutual mistrust and unite efforts to ensure international stability and security.”

Mr. Putin made no mention of the widespread reports that agents linked to Russia had tampered with the Macron campaign, just as they hacked the Democratic National Committee and the campaign of Hillary Clinton in the United States last year.

Mr. Macron’s campaign said Friday evening that his party had been the target of a “massive and coordinated attack,” after a trove of stolen campaign documents and emails was published online.

A New York-based cyberintelligence consultancy, Flashpoint, said there were indications that a hacker group with ties to Russian military intelligence had been behind the attack. Mr. Putin and his spokesman have repeatedly denied interfering in the elections of foreign countries.

The National Front is regrouping after the presidential race. The latest results showed that Ms. Le Pen won 33.9 percent of the vote - less than expected, but by far her party’s strongest showing in a presidential election. (Ms. Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, won 17.9 percent in the 2002 runoff against President Jacques Chirac.)

Echoing Ms. Le Pen’s concession speech, Nicolas Bay, the National Front’s secretary general, said, “A new divide is emerging: The patriots face the globalists.”

He said it was “obviously necessary for the National Front to transform itself.” Asked whether the party’s name would change, as Ms. Le Pen has hinted, he suggested that it was likely.

“I think it can be one of the means to be even more unifying and to live up to what the French are waiting for,” he said. “This decision will not be made in the next few weeks, but rather in the coming months.”

As if to highlight how quickly Mr. Macron must act to address the nation’s divisions, a few thousand protesters took to the streets of Paris on Monday, answering calls by a collective of unions to demonstrate against his plans to push a contested labr overhaul even deeper.

Courtesy: Aurelien Breeden and Benoît Morenne contributed reporting from Paris.

TRIBUTE: ALPHA SHAW


1958 -1980

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