France Returns to Europe
Emmanuel Macron’s victory is symbolically significant not just for France, but for all of Europe. But, to succeed, Macron must first strengthen the French economy, and then rebalance Franco-German relations.
PARIS – It will take time to understand the full implications of the French presidential election’s outcome. And yet we already know that Emmanuel Macron’s victory is symbolically significant not just for France, but for Europe generally.
For starters, Macron’s victory represents a break from the populist wave that has swept across Europe. Since the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum and US President Donald Trump’s election last year, populism has posed an existential threat to the European Union. And while Macron’s victory does not mean that the populist threat has been eliminated, it does show that such forces can be contained. And the fact that populism has been contained in France bodes well for other European countries.
Macron’s election also matters because it will probably change the world’s current perception of France. Under Macron’s predecessor, François Hollande, France pursued a policy of diplomatic activism, whereby it made substantial contributions to the fight against Islamist expansionism in Africa – particularly in Mali – and against the Islamic State.