Establishment’s Macron wins the French election

Emmanuel Macron, elected President of France yesterday with two-thirds of the vote, is a product of that country’s educational and financial establishment.

He will have an opportunity in the next five years to vindicate the establishment, by showing that it is possible to turn around the economy without changing France’s political or economic structure or withdrawing from the European Union.

Emmanuel Macron

I don’t expect that to happen.   First, he has not yet consolidated his power.  As President, he will be in charge of French foreign and military policy.    Domestic policy will be the responsibility of the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly.

The National Assembly will be elected June 11 and 18.   If Macron’s newly formed En Marche (On the Move) movement wins a majority, his power will be complete.   If not, the National Assembly may force him to accept a Prime Minister of a different party.

The President is something like a corporation’s chief executive officer and the Prime Minister is something like its chief operating officer.   If the CEO and COO were not in agreement and the CEO couldn’t remove him, then the CEO does not have the full powers of a CEO

Second, even if Macron’s power is complete, what solutions does he have to offer?   He campaigned on the basis of generalities and a winning personality, much like Barack Obama in the USA in 2008 and Justin Trudeau in Canada in 2015.

As Jeff Spross observed in The Week, Macron seems to regard global capitalism as a kind of force of nature that nobody can do anything about.

When a Whirlpool factory shut down in his hometown, Macron responded with: “What will I do? I’ll go in a truck and say, ‘With me, it won’t close?’  We know that it’s not true.”

Source: Jeff Spross | The Week.

My guess is that the size of Macron’s victory is more a repudiation of Marine Le Pen, and indirectly of her admirers, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, more than an endorsement of a Macron program.

Marine Le Pen

In most Western democracies, politicians are either left-wing populists, right-wing populists or defenders of the establishment.   Macron is a defender of the establishment, like most of the leaders of France’s established parties.

Left-wing populists blame a nation’s problems on the privileged elite, right-wing populists blame foreigners and minorities and the anti-populist establishment says things are about as well as can be expected.

In France, the most important left-wing populist is Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of France Insoumise (France Unbowed), another new party, which was formed in 2016.   The most important right-wing populist is Marine Le Pen, head of the French National Front.

If Macron falters, Melenchon and Le Pen will get their chance.

I don’t know if left-wing populism has an answer beyond overcoming the power of the elite, which is necessary but only a first step.  I am sure that right-wing populism is not an answer, and I also am sure that continuation of things as they are is not feasible.


After Macron’s win, France is divided in four by Thomas Guénolé for the Toronto Globe and Mail.

French election 2017: What are Emmanuel Macron’s policies? by Sebastian Kettley for The Express.

Emmanuel Macron Wins Big in the French Election—Now Comes the Hard Part by Uri Friedman for The Atlantic.

Marine Le Pen’s Real Victory by Emily Schultheiss for The Atlantic.

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