Can Macron's experiment succeed?

Emmanuel Macron was officially sworn in as France's 25th president on Sunday in a ceremony that included the traditional military parade. Europe's commentators discuss the difficulties he faces - and what the ceremony says about how the new president sees himself.

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Libération (FR) /

He wants the entire Fifth Republic

With Sunday's ceremony Macron showed what sort of president the French are now getting, Libération comments:

“The new president has reverted to protocol. It was a flawless performance. Everything was calculated to give this day presidential dignity. This is all part of the charm - and the ambiguity - of this young 39-year-old president: his modernity is a disarming classicism. And he doesn't hide it. He lays claim to the entire heritage of the Fifth Republic, which many believe is coming to an end. Nicolas Sarkozy tried to modernise it. François Hollande tried to desacralise it by giving it a more 'normalised' character, closer to the French people. Both of them failed. Macron, for his part, wants the Fifth Republic: all of it. He believes in the verticality of power, and accepts its military and authoritarian dimensions. In his own words, he wants to be a 'president who presides'.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Headwind for populism

Macron must now openly fight populism, historian Anne Applebaum writes in an article for the Washington Post published by Jyllands-Posten:

“Marine Le Pen represents real dissatisfaction with the economy, with terrorism, with immigration policy and with the privileged political class, though of course she is a part of that class herself. Macron will now have to address these issues. His center-left supporters may have to accept Thatcherite reforms; he has no party in the legislature right now to support him. The strength of his far-right opponents may grow. Macron can only succeed if he accepts that this is now the essence of politics in Western democracies: An open fight against the toxic appeal of false promises and divisive, nativist nostalgia. There is no point mourning the 'normalization' of populism, or in trying to silence Le Pen and her many like-minded colleagues in Europe and the United States. They are here to stay, and they will only be defeated through open confrontation, a growing economy and better security.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

As disappointing as Obama?

Those who compare Macron with Obama should remember that disappointment over the latter is what put Trump in the White House, Magyar Nemzet warns:

“Macron must build up the political, ideological and infrastructural foundation of his presidency. The first step: he must bolster his fragile domestic position, achieve a parliamentary majority and form a stable government. It cannot bode well that much of the voting population cast their ballots less for Macron than against Le Pen. His victory isn't based on trust but on sober calculation. ... As a result, Macron's success must be treated with caution. And as far as comparisons with Obama go, just remember how much of a disappointment he was for those Americans who longed for a new era.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Macron needs the Republicans

Macron will have to secure a few experienced politicians for his team, Il Sole 24 Ore predicts:

“So far, of the 428 candidates only 24 are outgoing MPs - all of them Socialists or Greens. … [Macron's] hope is that in the coming days - probably once the name of the future prime minister has been announced - at least a few of the top Republicans will be ready to change sides. Regarding the future head of government, the appointment of Edouard Philippe has become increasingly likely over the last few hours. The 46-year-old mayor of Le Havre is close to former prime minister Alain Juppé, the most well-known representative of the centrist bloc of the Republicans.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Include the social democrats

Macron was mistaken not to include former prime minister Manuel Valls in his team, political scientist Renée Fregosi writes in Le Figaro:

“Both from a theoretical and from a practical point of view, two tenets of social democracy should take centre stage when the next government gets down to work: negotiation and the search for compromises. ... The new labour law that Macron announced in his campaign must be negotiated in such a way that it gains the support of what is now France's largest union. All the more so because the [leftist confederation of trade unions] CGT and the radical left have already announced massive protests. ... What's more, the European dimension that plays a central role in Emmanuel Macron's project is shared by a new brand of social democracy that wants a strong and more compact Europe with a harmonised social and fiscal policy.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A strong centrist experiment

A unique political experiment has begun in France that could have consequences for all of Europe, Der Standard writes in delight:

“Now France has a president who doesn't belong to any camp: too progressive for the right, too market-oriented for the left. If Macron can attain a parliamentary majority with his En Marche movement and maintain it over the coming years he could create a new, hitherto unknown democratic dynamic - and an attractive alternative to the forces of right-wing populism. That would also rub off on other European countries, where voters are less and less loyal to the established parties.”

The Economist (GB) /

Don't slow down now!

Macron has only a short window of opportunity to usher in the changes he promised, The Economist warns:

“Mr Macron therefore needs to be ambitious and swift. Ambitious because you can be sure that the left and the unions will fight even small reforms as hard as large ones: if Mr Macron is to rally ordinary citizens against organised labour, he needs to make the fight worthwhile. And swift because, if reform is to succeed, now is as good a time as he will ever get. He is flush with victory. His party will start with the benefit of novelty. He can offer stimulus through apprenticeships and tax cuts. Most of all, he will be acting at a point in the cycle when France's economy is growing - faster, indeed, than at any time since a brief post-crisis rebound in 2010.”