The people of France have made history by ensuring a thumping victory of newly-elected President Emmanuel Marcon's brand new party of LA Republique en Marche ( centrist Republic on the Move ) to the parliament through the second round of voting on June 18. His party secured 200 seats and his coalition party Modem Allies 150 in 577-member legislature. La Republique en Marche was formed just over a year back.
Centrist newcomer Emmanuel Marcon became France's President by beating nationalist firebrand Marine Le Pen by 66 per cent to 34 per cent votes in the first week of May this year. He too made history as he never before held an elected office. Macron has now got mandate to reform labour market, simplify the tax system and save the middle class by investing in vocational training.
Voters rejected a xenophobic ultranationalist to represent France. Marine Le Pen's extreme right National Front got only nine seats in the parliament while she secured her seat for the first time. She of course secured massive victory in her constituency defeating Macron's candidate. On the other hand, the Socialist-led Centre group which was in power for the past five years along with their partners secured 49 seats while Republican-led centre-right group secured 137 to become the major opposition party in the parliament.
The people of France in fact did not follow British Brexit or American Trump voters either in choosing angry populism. According to the Washington Post of June 19, the rise of Macron's pro-Europe and pro-business party represented a watershed moment in modern French politics.
Emmanuel Macron is likely to face challenge to reduce unemployment which is now at ten per cent, and is 26 per cent among those under 30, apart from securing safety for France people from terrorism. By securing majority seats in the parliament, Macron's party will succeed in strengthening NATO and in bringing about changes in regulations of the European Union as well.
It is likely that Macron will emerge as a great leader of Europe who will be tough enough to deal with conflict zones around the world. This has been reflected in his initiative in inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Versailles Palace on May 29 immediately after one week of his taking over presidency. He was invited in spite of reports of his meddling in the French presidential elections, including hacking attacks on his campaign. The crisis in Syria, LGB rights in Chechnya, rights of embattled NGOs in Russia, meddling in Ukraine, spreading lies by Russia-funded news media outlets Sputnik and Russia Today came up for discussion which lasted more than an hour or so.
Macron was the first Western leader to speak with the Russian President immediately after the summit of G-7 leaders at Sicily of Italy where problems with the Russian Federation turned out to be a major topic of discussion. He warned Putin that any use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad could be met with 'reprisal' and sought his cooperation to defeat ISIS in Syria. The Russian President's visit coincided with an exhibition at the Versailles Palace to mark Soviet Tsar Peter the Great's visit to France 300 years back in 1717. Putin denied the allegations of spreading lies by Russia-funded news media and instead sought cooperation of France to tackle terrorism around the world.
By inviting Putin, Macron killed two birds with one stone. He initiated resetting of the French relations with the Russian Federation which was non-existent during the period of immediate-past President François Hollande because of aggressive Russian action against Ukraine. He also pleased supporters of Marine Le Pen in view of relations she established with Putin during the election campaign.
Assuming presidency, Marcon also paid a visit to Republic of Mali, a former French colony, to assure the administration of his support to defeat militant forces there. He visited Mali on May 19 and met President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. He urged him to implement peace deal of 2015 in letter and spirit which repeatedly faltered. France has been involved in fighting against militancy in Sahel region of Africa as a part of on-going counter-terrorism that spans five countries in the West Africa.
In 2013, President Francois Hollande dispatched French soldiers to fight against the Al-Qaeda affiliated group. Around 1,600 French solders are stationed in Mali having the largest military base outside France. Macron also met French soldiers as their commander-in-chief.
The French President also initiated preliminary discussion with the Ameer of Kuwait on June 11 to defuse crisis in Gulf region emanating from blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
After the parliamentary election, Macron is reshuffling his cabinet following resignation of two ministers and setting his house in order.
He possibly needs to reach out not only the racist and educated middle class, apart from disgruntled rural working class as well and clean up politics and ease regulations that many business personalities say are crippling the French economy.
Morning shows the day. There is no iota of doubt as to whether President Emmanuel Macron will turn out to be a powerful leader in Europe.
The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh
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