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  Opinion   Oped  14 May 2017  March on, Macron

March on, Macron

The author, Dr. R.Kichenamourty, is a long time resident of Puducherry and was a former Dean and head of the French department in Pondicherry University.
Published : May 14, 2017, 3:42 am IST
Updated : May 14, 2017, 4:16 am IST

As a President, Emmanuel Macron has several challenges ahead.

French President-elect Emmanuel Macron (Photo: AP)
 French President-elect Emmanuel Macron (Photo: AP)

Everything about Emmanuel Macron, who is going to take over as the next president of the French Republic on Sunday makes many political pundits keep their fingers crossed. His rise in the French political scene is meteoric.   Six months ago, one could hardly have expected him to step into the shoes of François Hollande.

A serious contender for the post was François Fillon, who incidentally happened to be the favourite of the French citizens in Pondicherry. However, his sudden fall to disgrace on corruption charges involving the employment of his wife in his office paved the way for Emmanuel Macron's rapid and unexpected ascent to political power.  Of course, Emmanuel Macron's family and educational background predisposed him to enjoy a brilliant career in any field.

 

Born on December 21, 1977 at Amiens, the son of two medical practitioners, was brilliant in his school studies and university. Like President Francois Hollande, he also attended the prestigious ENA (Ecole Nationale d'Administration), France's highest school for future civil servants and political leaders.  However after only a brief stint at civil service he preferred to join Rothschild Bank and became one of its associates.

One thing led to another and in 2014 François Hollande, the outgoing President of France, made him the youngest minister of the economy in France since Valéry Giscard d'Estaing who was also to become, later, the President of France.  However, Emmanuel Macron dropped out  last year to form his own party: La République En Marche!

 

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“I've seen the emptiness of our political system from the inside ... I reject this system,” he said in one of his speeches. He started claiming that “he was neither of the Left nor of the right” and that “he was only for France”.

As a President, Emmanuel Macron has several challenges ahead. The political scene in France is in a state of disarray. Emmanuel Macron's political agenda, however effective it may be, will be met with serious opposition, because his party La République En Marche! has yet to open its score to achieve the required majority. But he is quite undaunted. He has already outlined his priorities and preferences.

 

As an immediate step, he is planning to root out nepotism in his government. People's representatives will be prevented from employing in official capacity any of their relatives. The next item in his political agenda is related to labor laws. He intends to simplify them by regulating them so as the workers made redundant are not the sufferers. He wants greater flexibility in a 35-hour working week, allowing employers and staff more latitude to negotiate. However he vowed to get tough on unemployment benefits for those who repeatedly turned down job offers.  

The European Union is also one of his priorities. He believes in a strong European currency. In this respect, he is close to German chancellor Angela Merkel who will join hands with him in his attempt to face the challenges thrown by the US and Russia. At the same time, he helps keep in check the particular brand of political isolationism and economic nationalism represented by his far right rival, Marine Le Pen, represents.

 

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On the economic front, he said in his election manifesto that he wanted to invite British business and banks to relocate to Paris, promising a substantial reduction in corporation tax. As regards the educational scenario, he wants more freedom for school governance.

Sources close to him have said that Macron wants to maintain a state of emergency to fight terrorism as the French people are still reeling in shock after a series of fatal attacks that shook the previous regime.

However, Emmanuel Macron will find it tough to carry out his political agenda forthwith. For instance, he promises to implement at once a radical reform of labour laws while he has yet to establish his majority in parliament. But he claims that his government will issue a series of ordinances on specific issues. However, these ordinances will have only the status of decrees and they cannot substitute for laws voted by the two houses of parliament, i.e., the Senate and the Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly).  Of course, Emmanuel Macron may point out precedents.  During his tenure as President, Nicolas Sarkozy issued 136 ordinances!

 

In any case Emmanuel Macron's victory is to be attributed also to his youthful energy and personal charisma, which will definitely play a significant role in his political career.

Tags: emmanuel macron, angela merkel, nicolas sarkozy, françois hollande