WIN BOOSTS HOPES OF TURNING POPULIST TIDE
Macron’s victory brings relief after shock results in Britain and the US
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.