What does Macron's victory mean for France and Europe?

Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected as French president. With 58.55 percent in the runoff vote he had a clear lead over his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen (41.45 percent), but the gap narrowed compared to five years ago. Europe's press comments on the results, also with a view to the upcoming French parliamentary elections in June.

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Financial Times (GB) /

Ambitious goals within reach

In his second term Macron will reshape not only France but also Europe, the Financial Times believes:

“If Macron truly succeeds, his second and final term in office will see the EU emerge as a major geopolitical power, on a par with China and the US. That goal of creating a European superpower may seem distant, even delusional. But circumstances are combining to give Macron his best ever shot to push forward the vision. During his first term in office, Macron was frequently overshadowed by Angela Merkel. But Merkel has now retired as German chancellor. Her replacement, Olaf Scholz, lacks charisma and has made an uncertain start. Macron, with the enhanced prestige that comes from re-election, will look to provide the ideas and dynamism for the EU.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Macron's problems have only just begun

The old-new president's room for manoeuvre is looking pretty limited in view of the parliamentary elections in June, NRC Handelsblad writes:

“Not for nothing did the hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon launch his campaign on Sunday for what he calls the 'third round of elections'. With a left-wing majority, preferably with himself as prime minister, he hopes to force Macron to change course. A stronger parliament in which the government has to seek majorities could force Macron to adopt a less vertical leadership style. To make the 'new era' announced by Macron less like the old one, the gap between the two Frances must be narrowed.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

An exceptional president

Macron's re-election is historic, L'Opinion writes, comparing it in a favourable light to that of François Mitterrand and of Jacques Chirac:

“Both had just emerged from a painful period of cohabitation during which their political opponents wore themselves out to the point that they were beaten. The history books will thus remember the man who entered public life and was elected president the first time he ran for office, the man who founded a movement that in just a few months expelled the feudal lords who for decades had believed they owned party life, the man who held the highest office at a younger age than anyone before him and who achieved the impossible as the only one to win the French vote a second time.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Uphill battle in June

After the election is before the election, the Irish Independent observes:

“The French president faces an uphill battle to win the necessary parliamentary majority in legislative elections due to be held in two rounds on June 12 and June 19. Mr Macron's Republic on the Move party, only created by him in 2017, has a very patchy national organisation and is not rooted at all in very many regions and localities. There is a major danger that he may have to depend on parliamentarians from the hard left or the hard right to run a government in Paris. That increases the risk of a messy and rudderless period, known to the French by the term 'cohabitation'.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Unease not yet overcome

The relief at President Emanuel Macron's election victory must be followed by tangible improvements for the people, says De Morgen:

“Macron II will have to adopt a different tone to Macron I. Less Jupiter deep down and more father of the fatherland. In his first term, the president set his country on a modern course; now he must prove that this course can bring sufficient happiness and prosperity for as many French people as possible. Many of his fellow citizens are not yet convinced of this. The first test will come in June, when France elects a new parliament. The challenge is huge. ... A very high barrier of unease must be overcome.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

The EU as the solution

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung praises Macron for championing the EU:

“In taking on a staggeringly large group of hardened right-wing extremists with an even larger group of malcontents in their wake, Macron did not seek salvation in tactical Euroscepticism, as so many European politicians have done in similar situations. Rather he was bold enough to promote the EU as the solution to the problems of globalisation, both in material terms and in terms of identity.”

Politiken (DK) /

Europe needs him

Politiken is relieved and sees many challenges for Macron:

“Major tasks await him. With the German government in disarray, it is clear that the EU needs Emmanuel Macron to hold it together vis-à-vis Russia. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is clearly not up to the task, and French leadership is also needed to develop the European defence dimension into which Denmark will hopefully also enter. ... [However] this year's presidential election was not only gratifying, but also served as a socio-political and democratic wake-up call.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Ordinary citizens more worried about their bank accounts

It was not fear of radicalisation that led to Macron's victory over Le Pen, Jutarnji list argues:

“We and the rest of Europe should not kid ourselves: for the French it was important, but not decisive, that a Le Pen victory would entail at the very least a distancing from the EU, which relies for better or for worse on the Paris-Berlin axis - or even the demise of the European Union and a slide into nationalist conflicts that have already triggered two world wars and threaten a third in Ukraine. ... The French were more concerned about under which government they would suffer least in the current economic crisis. ... Ordinary people are more worried about whether inflation will eat into their savings, wages, pensions and welfare benefits.”