Finally, it turned out that the French chose a liberal, pro-European and independent 39 years old candidate as the 8th president of the Vth republic. With 66% of the ballots, Mr. Macron outperformed Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who came to power at the age of 48. This record has been beaten by Mr. Macron on May 7th.

Ms. Le Pen, who finished far behind with 33% of the votes, has been strongly criticized for having been defeated by Mr. Macron during the main presidential debate few days before the runoff. Indeed, she got confused on several themes like the Frexit, the Euro, several industrial dossiers and demonstrated nervousness and frustration in front of Emmanuel Macron, who displayed his expertise and kept steady and calm. She recognised afterwards she failed the debate and probably lost votes because of her poor performance. Nevertheless, she succeeded to gather more than 11 million votes over her name. This is the largest score ever recorded by the National Front in a French national election.

Mr. Macron’s good fortune still seems being with him, as optimism has come back accros the country and abroad since his election. People are ready to give a chance to the new and young president, who pledged to renew the political landscape, as well as doing the structural reforms France needs to restore growth and comptetitivness. Abroad, relief and optimism appear to be on the rise, as Frexit risk has been ruled out for the next five years. Moreover, Mr. Macron’s will to reform and relaunch the European project has been warmly welcomed by politics, investors and observers. A spirit of enthusiasm circulated among European leaders after Emmanuel Macron came in Berlin to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and announced their ambition to reform the treaty and strenghten the Eurozone.

Good spirit and luck are often contagious. Since the election, numerous economic indicators have become encouraging: the unemployment rate is decreasing, France is attracting again direct worldwide direct investments and business confidence is clearly improving.

However, there are many challenges to tackle for the new president. First of all, he must confirm his victory at the upcoming June 11 and 18 legislative elections, by securing a steady majority. But his party “La République En Marche” is brand new and made up mostly with young and unexperienced political figures. Without a  majority, he would not be able to implement his reforms.

The French media headlined several times there will not be a “state of grace” for Emmanuel Macron, considering the durable split of the country (see article below : does the political split of France reveal something new?) and the fact that 48% of the French does not trust him. It is also worth to note that among his voters, a large part chose him to eliminate Marine Le Pen. That does not mean they support him or his platform. Furthermore, 8.9% (more than 4 million people) expressed their reluctance by voting blank, while 25% abstained.

AN UNPRECEDENTED GOVERNMENT TO WIN AN UNPRECEDENTED MAJORITY
After having done the almost impossible: winning the presidential election at 39, without an established party backing him and no electoral mandate, would Emmanuel Macron be able to win a majority in parliament to rule the country?
This is his next challenge for the coming weeks. First of all, the day after he was officially invested President, he decided to name Edouard Philippe, a 46 year-old centre-right and little-known MP as French prime minister. Though this decision might look surprising at a first sight, it is a very smart and strategic move. Edouard Philippe, mayor of the Normandy seaside town of Le Havre, actively supported Mr. Juppé during the centre-right primary and considers himself as a “man of the right”. By choosing Mr. Philippe, Emmanuel Macron gave a new blow to “Les Républicains” in the prospect of the upcoming legislative elections.Mr. Macron’s intended purpose is to accelerate the breakdown of the parties that have shared power in the country for the past four decades. He already started with the socialist party, humiliated in the first round of the presidential election, and now wants to build a majority with the centrist part of “Les Republicains”. By appointing Bruno Le Maire Economy Minister and Gérald Darmanin Minister for Public Accounts, Mr. Macron amplified the dissensions within the traditional centre-right party. Although the centre-right is counting on a network of locally elected officials and the political inexperience of Mr. Macron’s party, whose parliamentary candidates are mostly political newcomers, recent polls predicted a large success of “La République en Marche” (REM) candidates :La République En Marche (centre / purple): between 280 and 300 seats
Les Républicains (right / blue): between 150 and 170 seats
Socialists (left – pink): between 40 and 50 seats
La France Insoumise & communist party (far-left / red): between 20 and 25 seats
National Front (far-right / black): between 15 and 20 seats*Poll conducted by Elabe, OpinionWay, Odoxa for Les Echos – May 22, 2017 

FOCUS : THE KEY FIGURES OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT 

Edouard Philippe, 46, Prime Minister

46-year-old centre-righ lawmaker and mayor of the Normandy seaside town of Le Havre
Supporter of Alain Juppé during the centre-right primary election

 

Gérard Collomb, 69, Minister for Home Affairs

Senator and Mayor of Lyon, France’s second-biggest city, Collomb is part of the centrist tendency of the Socialist party. He has never been a minister during his 40-year political career, but is named number two in the government protocol. One of Macron’s first close allies and vocal supporters among leading Socialists


Nicolas Hulot, 62, Ecological Transition Minister

Former documentary TV reporter Hulot is one of France’s best-known environmentalists. Hulot has advised governments from the right and the left about environmental policies. He made a bid to run as Green candidate in the 2012 presidential election, but lost out to a more leftist candidate in the party’s primaries.

François Bayrou, 62, Justice Minister

Figure of centrism in France for a long time. Three failed runs for the presidency. Former education minister, now mayor of Pau, gave Macron a boost in the polls in February when he decided to join the former banker’s ranks, sealing an alliance.

Sylvie Goulard, 52, Armed forces Minister

Ex-adviser to former European Commission president Romano Prodi. She worked as a well-known MEP in Brussels, even if she is little-known in France. She will be key to pushing wider European defense cooperation.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, 69, Europe and Foreign Affairs Minister

Le Drian takes over the foreign affairs portfolio after holding the defense post for five years under Hollande. One of the few popular ministers under Hollande. In a signal of Macron’s future priorities, the ministry has been renamed to emphasize the role of Europe in foreign policy. Former university history teacher, he has spent 35 years in politics and is president of the Brittany region.

Bruno Le Maire, 48, Economy Minister

Bruno Le Maire is a centre-right figure, pro-European and German-speaking. Le Maire came second to ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy in the race for the leadership of the The Republicans party in 2014 and finished fifth in the right-wing primaries last year. After an early career as a diplomat, he held successive portfolios under Sarkozy – first Europe and then agriculture.

Muriel Penicaud, 62, Labour Minister

Between 2008 and 2014, Penicaud was director-general for human resources at French food group Danone. From 2002 to 2008, she was a member of the executive committee of software firm Dassault Systemes. She held various posts at the Labour Ministry from 1985 to 2002. Since January 2015, Penicaud has headed Business France, an agency that aims to attract foreign investors and promote French exports.

Gérald Darmanin, 34, Minister for Public Accounts

Mayor of Tourcoing in northern France, Darmanin was a senior regional official in the right-wing The Republicans party and was campaign organiser for former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy’s unsuccessful bid to win the party primary last year.

DOES THE POLITICAL SPLIT OF FRANCE REVEAL SOMETHING NEW?
This everlasting and tough election has finally ended, leaving France durably split into two part. Maps clearly show that the higher the income or the level of education, the stronger the vote for Mr Macron. Therefore, the cities and the territories that benefit the most from the globalization and free-trade (the biggest cities, the western coast and tourist areas) massively voted for Mr. Macron. On the contrary, rural and post-industrial areas that suffer the most from successive relocation plans, economic crisis and unemployment (North, North-East and south-East) voted for Ms. Le Pen.

DOES THE POLITICAL SPLIT OF FRANCE REVEAL SOMETHING NEW?
This everlasting and tough election has finally ended, leaving France durably split into two part. Maps clearly show that the higher the income or the level of education, the stronger the vote for Mr Macron. Therefore, the cities and the territories that benefit the most from the globalization and free-trade (the biggest cities, the western coast and tourist areas) massively voted for Mr. Macron. On the contrary, rural and post-industrial areas that suffer the most from successive relocation plans, economic crisis and unemployment (North, North-East and south-East) voted for Ms. Le Pen.Where this split exactly comes from? Has this phenomenon emerged alongside the globalization? Or is it something which is more deeply rooted in France’s history?According to Jean-Loup Bonnamy, expert in political philosophy, there is “nothing new under the sun”. The map above looks quite similar with the map of the 1881’s legislative elections, he observed. At that time, these elections was key for the republican camp, which definitely established his power against the royalists. The break line is the same than today except that in 1881, western regions voted for royalist candidates and eastern regions for republican ones. Nowadays, the vote for the National Front has been covering the 1881’s republican votes.But even if the geographical split has remained the same, how can we explained that the republican votes turn into far-right votes and on the contrary that royalist votes turn into moderate votes?Mainly for economic reasons. Western France and largest cities are today more prosperous than the northern, eastern and southern parts of France. The North-East is an industrial land, which has been particularly affected by the globalization. Moreover, to satisfy the workforce’s needs, these regions had attracted several waves of immigrants for decades. With an anti-immigrant and anti-globalization speech, the far-right usually performs well over there.Western France is furthermore culturally and historically catholic, which is, to a certain extent, a sociological barrier to Marine Le Pen’s votes. Besides, eastern France has been usually more open to speeches about nation: from Maurice Barrès (right nationalist MP at the beginning of the 20th century) to Philippe Seguin (social Gaullist figure in the 1980’s and the 1990’s, reluctant vis à vis the EU) and Jean-Pierre Chevènement (left nationalist politician, very reluctant vis à vis the EU).As a matter of fact, the 2017 election does not offer any political renewal affirmed Bonnamy. Macron inherited the socialist and centrist electoral “bastions”, which are traditionally Catholics and moderate. If western France considered for a moment to endorse Mr. Fillon or Mr. Bayrou given the bad results of the last socialist term, they finally found in Macron their candidate, especially once Mr. Bayrou decided to support him. All experts therefore agree that the rallying of Mr. Bayrou was the turning point of the campaign.All these comments confirm one thing: Mr. Macron is perfectly aware of the French votes’ subtleties. By standing as a young and pragmatic candidate, capable of reforming the country and shaking up the establishment, he accelerated the collapse of the parties that run the country for four decades. He opened himself a political “boulevard” by crushing the socialist candidate (6% of the votes at the first round), literally deserted by his own troops (the moderate part went to Mr. Macron while the leftist went to Mr. Melenchon). He was also fortunately helped by the “affairs” that deeply weakened Mr. Fillon and Ms. Le Pen all along the campaign. The defeat of Mr. Juppé at the “Republicains” primary was also a prerequisite, as Juppé appeared much more centrist and pro-European than Fillon. Then, Mr. Macron managed successfully to push Fillon toward the far-right.WHAT’S THE GOVERNMENT AGENDA FOR 2017?

  • Before the legislative election: issuance of a bill on the moralization of politics and consultations on the future reform of the labour laws
  • 11-18 June: French legislative elections (election of the new 577 MPs who will seat in the National Assembly for 5 years)
  • After the legislative election: possible government reshuffle (depending of the legislative elections results)
  • June: issuance of a draft to simplify public norms and codes. The government will notably commit to guarantee the fiscal and social stability, once the reforms are adopted
  • June-July: a general audit of the public finances will be conducted by the French Court of auditors.
  • July:
    • examination of the moralization bill at Parliament
    • examination of the reform on labour (le Parliament will adopt a bill allowing the governement to rapidly enact measures on this issue)
    • launch of a general summit on food and agriculture
  • September: Senate Elections (renewable by half every 6 years)
  • October-December : draft and examination of the 2018 Finance Bill (PLF) and Social Security Financing Act (PLFSS)