Emmanuel Macron will take office as France’s next president on May 14, President Francois Hollande announced on Monday, a day after Macron, an independent centrist, defeated Marine Le Pen in a battle for the country’s leadership.
Macron appeared beside 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,” Jerome Fenoglio, the editorial director of Le Monde, wrote in a front-page editorial.
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 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 Le Pen. The movement of the far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon 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, secretary-general of 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 Macron’s government and sit in the majority group in Parliament.
And En Marche! will soon sound a bit more like a traditional party. Ferrand said the name would be changed at a congress in mid-July to La Republique en Marche, or Republic on the Move. Macron resigned as head of the movement after his election victory and a temporary president has been appointed, Ferrand said.
Sylvie Goulard, a centrist member of the European Parliament who supports Macron, told the CNews channel on Monday that 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 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,” Merkel said. “He ran a courageous pro-European campaign, stands for openness to the world and is committed decisively to a social market economy.”
President Vladimir Putin of Russia joined a chorus of world leaders, including President Donald Trump, in congratulating Macron.
“The citizens of France have trusted you with leading the country at a difficult time for Europe and the whole world community,” Putin said in a statement. “The growth in threats of terrorism and militant extremism is accompanied by an escalation of local conflicts and the destabilisation of whole regions. In these conditions it is especially important to overcome mutual mistrust and unite efforts to ensure international stability and security.”
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.
As if to highlight how quickly 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 labor overhaul even deeper.
New York Times