Macron and Germany Michele Tantussi/Stringer

Can Macron Pull it Off?

Emmanuel Macron’s victory over Marine Le Pen was much-needed good news for anyone who favors open, liberal democratic societies over their nativist, xenophobic counterparts. But the battle against right-wing populism cannot be won without deeper European integration, and Germany may not be ready to go along.

CAMBRIDGE – Emmanuel Macron’s victory over Marine Le Pen was much-needed good news for anyone who favors open, liberal democratic societies over their nativist, xenophobic counterparts. But the battle against right-wing populism is far from won.

Le Pen received more than a third of the second-round vote, even though only one party other than her own National Front – Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s small Debout la France – gave her any backing. And turnout was apparently sharply down from previous presidential elections, indicating a large number of disaffected voters. If Macron fails during the next five years, Le Pen will be back with a vengeance, and nativist populists will gain strength in Europe and elsewhere.

As a candidate, Macron was helped in this age of anti-establishment politics by the fact that he stood outside traditional political parties. As president, however, that same fact is a singular disadvantage. His political movement, En Marche !, is only a year old. He will have to build from scratch a legislative majority following the National Assembly elections next month.

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