Macron’s vic­tory brings re­lief af­ter shock re­sults in Bri­tain and the US

New Straits Times - - World -

the polls while the fringe anti-im­mi­gra­tion Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD) party is los­ing steam.

“Af­ter Brexit and Trump’s vic­tory, the Western world and Europe have been spared an­other po­lit­i­cal earth­quake,” said Ger­man daily

adding that Europe had dodged the “night­mare” of a far­right leader in the El­y­see Palace.

The said France, like the US, Bri­tain and other ma­jor democ­ra­cies, faced the chal­lenge of “many peo­ple feel­ing marginalised by glob­al­i­sa­tion, eco­nomic stag­na­tion, an un­re­spon­sive govern­ment, un­em­ploy­ment, face­less ter­ror­ism and a tide of im­mi­grants”.

How­ever the news­pa­per, which has been at the fore­front of crit­i­cal cov­er­age of the Trump pres­i­dency, said French vot­ers had opted for a “fu­ture in Europe rather than in re­sent­ful iso­la­tion” and de­liv­ered “a vic­tory of hope and op­ti­mism over fear and re­ac­tion”.

Euroscep­tics have been on the rise on a con­ti­nent badly rat­tled by the eu­ro­zone debt cri­sis and the mass refugee in­flux that peaked in 2015, and an­gered es­pe­cially eastern EU mem­bers on the “Balkans route”.

In Poland, the right-wing and anti-EU Law and Jus­tice party took power in 2015, while in Hun­gary, Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban has openly sparred with Brus­sels.

Last June came the stun­ning Brexit vote, while in Aus­tria, a far­right can­di­date was only nar­rowly beaten for the pres­i­dency.

Europe’s right-wing pop­ulists, from Le Pen to Ger­many’s AfD, were fur­ther em­bold­ened by Trump’s vic­tory in Novem­ber.

How­ever, the tide ap­pears to have turned this year, start­ing with the de­feat in March in the Nether­lands of anti-Is­lam can­di­date Geert Wilders.

Af­ter Macron’s win, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent JeanClaude Juncker’s chief of staff, Martin Sel­mayr, tweeted: “Kick off... Aus­tria. Quar­ter-fi­nal: Sta­ble Nether­lands. Semi-fi­nal: La France en Marche!”

If the fi­nal is the Ger­man elec­tion, Merkel also has cause for op­ti­mism. Her party scored an­other strong vic­tory in state elec­tions on Sun­day, while the an­timi­grant, anti-Is­lam and euroscep­tic AfD, riven by in­fight­ing, has badly slipped in the polls.

The head of the small, lib­eral FDP party, Chris­tian Lind­ner, said “af­ter 2016 was the year when pop­ulists, over-sim­pli­fiers and ex­trem­ists cel­e­brated suc­cess, 2017 is the year of the mod­er­ate forces.”

Many, how­ever, warned it was too early to claim vic­tory for cen­trist pol­i­tics.

Martin Quencez of think tank the Ger­man Mar­shall Fund of the US warned that in France “the struc­tural is­sues be­hind the pop­ulist votes are yet to be tack­led”.

“One third of the vot­ers sup­ported the na­tion­al­ist, anti-EU and anti-glob­al­i­sa­tion can­di­dacy of Marine Le Pen, and this will re­main the main po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion to the new pres­i­dent.”

judged that “the Na­tional Front has been gain­ing ground for the last 45 years, and its steady elec­toral in­creases must be seen in the long term”.

Sim­i­larly, Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel warned that Macron must be al­lowed to suc­ceed be­cause “if he fails, then Madame Le Pen will be pres­i­dent in five years’ time.”

French pres­i­dent-elect Em­manuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, cel­e­brat­ing at his vic­tory rally near the Lou­vre in Paris on Sun­day.

Sup­port­ers of French pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Em­manuel Macron cel­e­brat­ing at the Car­rousel du Lou­vre on Sun­day.

Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande and pres­i­dent-elect Em­manuel Macron mark­ing the end of World War 2 at the Tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier at the Arc de Tri­om­phe in Paris yes­ter­day.

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