Emmanuel Macron as the bearer of great hope

A great sense of relief prevails in Europe's press after Emmanuel Macron's clear victory against Marine Le Pen - tinged, however, with doubts in view of the huge tasks that await France's new president. Can Macron live up to the expectations? And does he have the right formulat to push through the reforms he has promised?

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Le Point (FR) /

A country with wind in its sails

The founder of En Marche! has filled the French with new hope, Le Point believes:

“Although many French voted for Macron owing to a lack of alternatives, they now truly hope he will rid their country of the old practices that have sapped its energy and that he will free it from all the ballast that is weighing it down. In sum, they hope he'll reform and renew the country. The new president will need courage, authority and imagination to keep this promise: the courage to attack our taboos, the authority to rid politics of old faces and replace them with new ones, and the imagination to design a France that can be great in the 21st century. After Emmanuel Macron's election a wind of optimism is blowing across France. All the new captain needs to do is set the right course and stick to it. En route!”

Večer (SI) /

A stage victory for the pro-Europeans

In his acceptance speech on election night Emmanuel Macron promised he would rid France of the problems that led people to vote for the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. But that can mean two things, Večer believes:

“Either he will follow Austria's example and subtly or not so subtly integrate the demands of the right into his policies. Or he will succeed in addressing the fears of the French people exploited by Marine Le Pen, and banish them with a policy of cooperation and unity. In the European Union as well. Macron's win is only a stage victory for all Europhiles. For the new president a lot depends on the elections to the National Assembly. He has yet to prove his mettle.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Compromises rather than a revolution

Macron's policies will be less revolutionary than many people expect, Corriere del Ticino predicts:

“ En Marche! will send political novices into the National Assembly who despite their good intentions won't always be up to the job. We saw the same thing with the MPs of the Five Star Movement, whom Grillo at one point prohibited from taking part in public debates. … To take the path of reform as quickly as possible a well-prepared team is crucial. The Elysée Palace's tenant will have to show his cards soon. He must present the new prime minister and his government team. Then we will see how credible the 'Macron Revolution' is. In parliament, on the other hand, where the En Marche! movement is unlikely to achieve a majority, Macron's supporters will have to show that they can master the art of compromise. Rather than reinventing politics Macron will revamp his predecessors' legacy as well as he can.”

The Guardian (GB) /

President could face same fate as Renzi

Macron won't be able to push through the reforms France needs, historian Timothy Garton Ash writes in a guest commentary for The Guardian:

“The president-elect has no established party behind him, so it is totally unclear what majority will emerge from next month's French parliamentary elections. He is already being described as 'Renzi 2.0', a reference to the Italian would-be-reformist former premier Matteo Renzi. His super-ambitious target is to reduce public spending from 56% of GDP to just - wait for it - 52%. The obstacles to change in France are enormous, from powerful unions and a bloated public sector to farmers who make a habit of blocking roads with tractors. If Macron fails to reform France, in 2022 we may yet have a president Le Pen.”

Respekt (CZ) /

Wave of populism has been stopped

Macron's win is an important victory over populism, Respekt writes:

“His victory stops (for good?) the wave of populism that began last summer in the British Isles, continued with Donald Trump's election and could have swept away the second-largest country in the EU after this election. Liberal democracy on the Continent was hanging by a thread. ... Macron offered a change in his election campaign; new hope and an end to the 40 years in which all kinds of governments tried and failed to modernise the French economy. Macron wants to remain true to the system, he doesn't want to destroy liberal democracy, the free market economy or the international institutions that form the backbone of the West. His intention of stopping companies from moving to cheaper Eastern Europe has implications for us, too. But for now it is important that the debate about all this will be conducted according to the rules that have kept the West together for years.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Game won but not the match

France's new president hasn't won yet, Der Standard points out:

“Once again we have seen the French vote in the first round with their heart and in the second with their head. This is a triumph of reason. Many voted for Macron mainly because they didn't want to see the far-right politician Marine Le Pen in the presidential palace. But the comparatively low voter turnout and many blank votes show that a substantial number didn't want to choose between the two. ... First of all we must see whether Macron can govern at all in the way he intends to. Whether he can push through his political ideas or ends up as a lonely voice in the Elysée won't be decided until [the parliamentary elections in] June. Macron has won a victory in the presidential election but his battle has just begun.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

An empty victory

The French wanted to bring a fresh wind into politics yet avoid risks, but that's not the way to get a strong president, Le Figaro argues:

“A question arises at the dawn of Macron's term: What mandate has he received? What did the French want to express by making him president? They wanted to see new faces in politics. This president who's still in his thirties is the embodiment of the 'Get out of here!' attitude diagnosed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. But the French now want to enforce this attitude without rushing headlong into the adventure represented by Mélenchon or Le Pen. ... The Macronists of the second round see him above all as a way to prevent the victory of Marine Le Pen. All that makes Macronism an empty word. And it makes the victory of the En Marche candidate a victory by default.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

No majority for an open France

Macron's breaking through the traditional right-left dividing line could seal his fate, Zeit Online predicts:

“Macron stands for an open France. But that puts him in the minority. For a president, that's not a good place to be. More than 50 percent of the French voted for a protectionist economic policy in the first round, and significantly more than 50 percent voted for nationalist, sovereigntist politicians. Macron, the European patriot and deregulator, obtained only 23 percent of the vote for his programme. ... That will hardly allow him to be a good president. Because the rift he counted on to win also divides French society. Now the almost caricatural hate figure so derided by one side has become president. Macron the banker, the ex-minister, the graduate of elite schools. In French society there is no majority for openness. That is likely to be his biggest problem in key areas.”

Blog Pitsirikos (GR) /

The bankers are celebrating

Not the defenders of democracy but above all the bankers have cause to celebrate now, blogger Pitsirikos comments:

“Macron's victory opens the way for other European bankers to gain power. ... Some are celebrating Macron's victory and describing the fact that a Rothschild banker has become France's president as a triumph for democracy. So democracy is when you have to choose between a banker and a right-wing extremist. This is not democracy, this is death. At the same time they are so stupid that they don't see that Macron is paving the way for Le Pen's presidency. Macron doesn't bring hope, as he claims, but fascism. The neoliberal politicians who completely dominate the European Union are paving the way for the fascists. And some are celebrating this as a victory for democracy. Happy 1936!”

Evenimentul Zilei (RO) /

Election highlights political rifts

Macron's victory poses certain problems, Evenimentul Zilei warns:

“The number of abstentions was very high in the second round: between 25 and 27 percent. ... Such apathy hasn't been seen in France since 1969, when it reached 31.15 percent. ... And as back then there were more abstentions in the second round than in the first. So-called blank ballots in favour of neither candidate also played a role. According to estimates their number reached a record 12 percent. In 1969, by contrast, only 6.42 percent of ballots were blank, and in 2012 5.82 percent. In 1969, however, both candidates were from the centre-right camp, while in this election the high abstention rate points to very serious political rifts. Clearly Macron only won as easily as he did because he had no popular rival. The shadows that darken his victory could take their toll in the months to come.”