President Macron Starts His Reign with Two High-risk Moves




 

Robert Harneis - TDO – (FRANCE) After a day of ceremonial President Macron has launched himself into the battle to win a majority in the National Assembly without which he will be a prisoner in the Elysée.  He is seeking support from all sides of the political spectrum and to that end, during the investiture, he was careful to pay tribute to his predecessors from both sides of the political divide, for their different achievements. He also stressed his role as Commander in Chief of the armed forces, riding in a military vehicle during the investiture parade. He is the first French President never to have served in any capacity in the nation's armed forces.

A former Socialist minister himself, he has appointed a new Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, from the right Republican Party in an obvious bid to attract support from Republican deputies. He has already seriously disrupted the Socialist party and clearly would like to do the same to the other party of government. Philippe is the mayor of France's second port Le Havre and a member of the National Assembly. Other than that he has no governmental experience of any kind. Macron himself has little governmental experience. It is thus a high-risk tactical appointment.

 

His first meeting is with Angela Merkel on the first day of his presidency. Whilst relations with Germany are vital to a successful presidency, that is also a high-risk move. During the election campaign, his opponent Marine Le Pen remarked that 'whatever happens France will be ruled by a woman – myself or Angela Merkel' referring to the German control over French economic policy through the European Commission.

The German Chancellor will handle him as tactfully as possible, knowing he has a vital election to fight in June but there are limits beyond which she cannot go. Macron's proclaimed policy is a united Euro-zone with a joint budget, finance minister, and parliament.   He is pledged to relaunch a reformed Europe. A joint budget can only mean transfer payments from Germany to the other Eurozone countries further south, notably Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. But that is precisely what Germany has always refused. Merkel has her own elections to fight in September and any suggestion of bailing out the rest of Europe could be fatal to her chances.

The fifty percent of the French electorate, who are hostile to the European Union, in its present form, will be watching carefully to see how he gets on. This is especially so as his Socialist predecessor in office François Hollande promised but totally failed to deliver reforms of the Euro-zone financial arrangements that seriously limit policy options for the French economy.