After defeating nationalist competitor Marine Le Pen in Sunday's election, Emmanuel Macron has a second chance to persuade the French people that his pro-business, pro-European program can benefit them.
While voters rallied behind the 44-year-old centrist to give him a second term, many did so to keep Le Pen out of power rather than because they believe in his ideas. His victory margin was barely more than half of what it had been in 2017, at 58.5 percent to 41.5 percent.
"Many of our countrymen voted for me tonight not to endorse the values I represent, but to put a stop to the far right," Macron said at a solemn victory rally near the Eiffel Tower.
The president promised a revolution in Europe's second-largest economy when he took office. His reform push was hindered by demonstrations and brought to a halt by the Covid epidemic following a frenzy of action in his first year in office. At the end of his administration, there was more unrest in the country than there had been at the start.
He stated, "This new five-year mandate cannot be a continuation of the previous one."
Macron is a divisive figure. Approximately half of the French people approve of his handling of the economy during the pandemic and his efforts to help Russia conclude its war in Ukraine. In March, he had a 51 percent approval rating, and the euro surged in early Sydney trading following the election outcome. Many French people, however, regard him as arrogant and out of touch.
The focus is already shifting to the June legislative elections, in which Macron will defend the parliamentary majority he needs to carry out his agenda. The president is in a relatively strong position as a result of the results, though he will almost certainly need to make partnerships with other parties including Le Pen urged her followers to keep campaigning in the run-up to the election.
"The result is a stunning victory in and of itself," Le Pen addressed her fans before leading them in a chorus of the national song, "The Marseillaise." "Millions of people voted for change and the national camp."
Macron's task will be to mend the country's rifts and rally support for his proposals to improve the country's competitiveness by revamping social policies such as pensions and strengthening the country's economic foundations. According to the Bank of France, the French economy's growth potential is currently lower than it was under Macron's much-maligned predecessor Francois Hollande.
In a brief interview during his victory celebration, Barbara Pompili, the environment minister, stated, "We must rebuild with everyone, without leaving anyone on the sidelines, to establish a society where people live better, breathe better." "We still have a powerful far right." And a higher rate of abstention. It is something that we must consider. We may do so by focusing more on how to bring folks closer together."
Among France's European allies, the reaction to the result was more jubilant. They were apprehensive about the possibility of a nationalist with long-standing pro-Russia views becoming president at a time when the European Union is addressing Vladimir Putin over his war in Ukraine.
In a joint letter published in many publications on April 21, German, Spanish, and Portuguese politicians took the extraordinary step of interfering in the domestic affairs of another nation by urging French citizens not to vote for her. They called her a candidate who "openly supports those who assault our freedom and democracy."
In a Tweet, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was the first foreign leader to talk with Macron after his victory, said Macron's victory demonstrated a strong commitment to Europe. "I am delighted that our good cooperation will continue," he added, adding that they will meet in person as soon as possible.
However, the president's major worry on Sunday night was his domestic issues. This election campaign has pushed France into uncharted ground, dividing the country's political landscape into three camps: Macron's center, Jean-Luc Melenchon's far-left, and Marine Le Pen's far right, which she has fought to manage at times.
"There is also a need for the national bloc to unite and mobilize." "Our responsibility is enormous," said Eric Zemmour, a nationalist competitor to Le Pen who had threatened to overtake her two weeks ago in the first round. "We'll battle for ideas in every French city and village, on the Internet, and in the media."
On the campaign tour last week, Macron struck a contrite tone as he reflected on the problems ahead and stated that he was willing to talk, even on pension reform. This was evident in his celebrations as well. He had walked alone across the courtyard of the Louvre museum in 2017, but this time he was surrounded by his wife and scores of children, who were singing a considerably quieter version of the European hymn.
"It will be my obligation to find a response to the anger and dissent," he stated. "There will be no one left behind."