Emmanuel Macron may now be the most powerful French president since Charles de Gaulle after crushing the establishment yet again in the country’s National Assembly elections.
Macron’s Republic on the Move party and its allies won 350 seats in the 577-strong parliament after yesterday’s second round. The result is even more astonishing for the fact that his party didn’t exist 14 months ago.
Macron now has five years to remake a country plagued by economic weakness, terrorism and near-record unemployment. A recent poll showed 88 percent of people think France has lost its way.
It’s a task that has eluded French presidents for decades, and the 39-year-old Macron will have to overcome a mixture of apathy and discontent if he’s to pull it off. Turnout for the assembly elections was the lowest on record. And Macron will face the inevitable wave of street protests when he tries to implement his reforms.
But the prize is a big one. If he succeeds he’ll join Margaret Thatcher and, to a lesser extent, Gerhard Schroeder in the pantheon of European leaders who transformed their countries.
If not, the populist wave may be difficult to hold back next time.
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