May 7, 2017
• Emmanuel Macron (En Marche! – Independent) : 65,1%
• Marine Le Pen (Front National – Far Right) : 34,9%
Emmanuel Macron Wins
The second round of the French presidential election took place on Sunday 7th May. Totally unknown to the general public three years ago, 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron has been elected as the 8th President of the Fifth Republic, defeating not just Marine Le Pen, but also the traditional parties that have been at the centre of the French political landscape for more than half a century.
Nevertheless, the far-right received its highest score in the history of French presidential elections, in line with the rise of populism in the Western world, exemplified by Brexit in the UK and the victory of Donald Trump in the US. The election of Emmanuel Macron thus comes as a relief for both France and the European Union.
This second round offered two very different visions of France. The first, promoted by Marine Le Pen, was a call for protectionism, the return to the Franc and the reestablishment of borders controls. Macron’s approach, on the other hand, was built on the idea of France opened to the world and benefiting fully from the opportunities provided by the European Union. Even though the normalization of the far-right party’s image was clear and the formation of a “republican front” failed to really materialize, Emmanuel Macron managed to persuade a majority of the French people to reject protectionism and populism.
The electoral campaign was hard-fought and gruelling for both candidates. Political challenges could have put paid to Emmanuel Macron’s chances. The moderate right wing Conservatives should have won the election easily – given that a very unpopular outgoing president decided not to seek a second term in office – but faced difficulties because of the judicial affairs compromising their candidate, former prime minister François Fillon. More troubling is that the far-right (Front National) and far-left (La France Insoumise) both managed to achieve record-high scores. Thus Emmanuel Macron has benefited from an unprecedented level of electoral fragmentation, which, ironically, is now his main challenge. He must now navigate this new political landscape and help his En Marche! movement gain a majority in Parliament after the general elections in June.
It is no exaggeration to say that a new era of French politics opens on 7th May. In recent history, newly-elected presidents have secured majorities in the general elections weeks after their election. Emmanuel Macron could well follow this path and obtain a majority, which would allow him to carry out his programme, although it is less certain than in previous years. The two traditional parties, the Socialists and the Conservatives, are strongly divided and the parliamentary election might very well launch a process of restructuring of the entire French political scene, with En Marche! attracting the progressive elements of both the right and the left.
The main measures of his program are listed below:
Emmanuel Macron was minister of the Economy, industry and digital technology during François Hollande’s mandate (2014-2016).
He began his career as a senior official and then joined the Rotschild & Cie bank. He started in politics as a counsellor to François Hollande and then as Deputy Secretary General of the French Presidency (2012-2014).
• Investment plan of €50 billion to improve job skills, ecological transition and agriculture
• €60 billion public savings over 5 years, notably on the State payroll and allocations to local councils
• Bring down public spending to 50% of GDP in the next five years
• Reduced taxes for those on lower incomes, and increase of the General Social Contribution (CSG) by 1.7%
• Lower social charges for businesses
• Wealth tax redesigned into tax on real estate annuity
• Increase the number of teachers in underprivileged areas
• Increase access to professional training for workers and the unemployed
• Creation of a unique universal insurance system, with greater accessibility to unemployment benefits
• Convergence of pension schemes towards a universal points-based system, without increasing the retirement age
• Ensure a third of energy comes from renewable sources by 2030
• No new licenses for activities related to exploration for and exploitation of hydrocarbons
• Development of clean tech, smart cities and smart grids
• Accountability towards the Parliament reinforced
• Introduction of proportionality in legislative elections
• Reduction in the number of parliamentarians by a third
• Support EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
• Creation of an autonomous EU budget and borrowing capacity
• Increased European integration with a Finance Minister and Parliament for the Eurozone, while respecting the 3% European budget deficit limit
• Favour a two-speed EU in terms of both solidarity and integration
• Creation of a defence fund to buy military equipment
• Creation of a EU border guard force of 5,000
• Hard stance on Brexit negotiations, including financial services
• Pro-US foreign policy
• Maintain sanctions against Russia as long as the Minsk accords are not respected.