France Defies Populism With Strong Advocacy for Europe

Emmanuel Macron took a political risk, fiercely defending the European project, to win the French presidential race. His decisive victory, capturing 65 percent of the vote over populist Marine Le Pen’s 35 percent, lifts the confidence for all who support the principles that Europe is stronger as a united force rather than a set of fragmented and competitive small nations. “The size of the Macron vote nonetheless indicates clear rejection of the far right, recalling a Japanese proverb that says ‘You have to approach the gate of hell to turn back,’” writes François Godement, senior policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Macron must overcome some tests, explains Godement. Elections for the National Assembly are in June, and a strong majority for his new party would be helpful. He must also capitalize on his win with quick pursuit of policies that encourage economic growth, including labor reforms, which will make France more globally competitive. In turn, such reforms may convince Germany to be a full partner, increasing consumption and drafting policies that lift economic growth for the entire European Union. “The poison of nationalism and fear has produced its own antidote in France,” concludes Godement. Macron becomes president on May 14. – YaleGlobal