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Macron Re-Elected: GOOD FOR INDIA INDEED, By Dr D.K. Giri, 29 April 2022 Print E-mail

Round The World

New Delhi, 29 April 2022

Macron Re-Elected


By Dr D.K. Giri

(Prof. International Politics, JIMMC)


On the day of counting of votes for the presidential elections in France, a concerned academic asked one of us, is France staying centrist or moving right? He suggested that the result in the presidential poll will also determine the European Union’s attitude to the war and its aftermath in Ukraine. We were hoping that Emmanuel Macron will pull it off as he was leading in the opinion polls, although the tension and apprehensions were quite high.


However, in the morning of 25 April, in Paris, everything looked lighter after weeks and months of raging controversies, war of words, mutual threats between the extreme rightist coalitions of Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour on one side, and the Macron’s camp on the other. In the end, it was a clear win, Macron definitely torpedoed Le Pen and crushed her ambition of becoming the next French President.


Admittedly, the stakes were very high, as Macron made it clear. Le Pen’s programme encompassed huge constitutional risks, an economic disaster in view of the proposed unfinanced staggering populist expenses, a revolutionary diplomatic U-turn in France swapping its historical alliances with European partners and USA with Putin’s Russia, at a time, it was bombing Ukraine, an independent and sovereign country.


One may wonder how such a radical project attracted 41 per cent of French voters on Sunday, the 24 of April. Macron got 48 per cent. This is a bit complex to explain, given the history of French politics. Extreme Right is not new on the French political landscape, as a mixed blend of small minority of royalists, anti-democrats, liberals. But, at no point, they seemed to threaten the whole democratic Republic of France, as it did in the last elections.


The new factors which boosted the rise of extreme rightists, both in rural as well as suburban populations, are the feelings of despondency and discrimination. They see themselves as isolated, ill-understood, threatened by globalisation, migration, foreign competition, and worse, felt discriminated and despised by fellow-French who lived well and in affluent towns and regions.


The traditional framework of the French society consisting of catholic roots, socialist culture (either Communist or Social Democratic) is waning quickly leaving large chunks of people without values and references, except as some analysts say, the super market culture where the purchasing power is the ultimate social criterion. Against this backdrop, xenophobia, demagogy, populism, and nationalism are nurturing extreme opposition based on psychology, more than ideology.


However, the French people voting for Macron were determined to arrest the downward slide of the French politics into xenophobic right-wing extremism. Even Macron recognised and acknowledged the anxiety of the people with regard to Le Pen. He told the voters in his victory speech, that many backed him ‘not out of support for my ideas’, but in order to block Marine Le Pen.Macron owed his re-election as President to reluctant voters who backed him to keep Marine out of power. Such was the unexpected tide towards the right-wing politics.


The re-elected President has difficult tasks ahead. First, winning the parliament elections on 12 and 19 June in order to gain the majority in Assemblée Nationale. Macron’s party will fight extreme right on the one side, may be weakened by the emerging rivalry between Le Pen and Zemmour, who, a few minutes after election results were disclosed, attacked Le Pen family as confirmed losers, and on the other side, the ambitious J.L. Melenchon, a charismatic, substantial leader of all the left (ecologists, socialists and communists) provided that all of them unite, which  again is unlikely, as they will like to keep their identity separate in the next Assembly.


The run-up to 19 June and the following months will reveal how Emmanuel Macron could reinvent himself and his party, and adopt, during his second mandate, a new approach that is able to ensure a more vibrant and participative democracy, an inclusive economic and social regime addressing the needs of the down-trodden, marginalised and discriminated. He will have to give a new push towards a more cohesive and assertive European Union.


It is easier said than done as Macron’s party La Republique En Marche (LREM) just saw a big dip in its support base – from 57 per cent to 48 per cent. A large number, upto 28 per cent abstained.  One observer suggested that Macron’s second term as President is floating in the sea of abstentions and withdrawal. Many voters were indeed unhappy with Macron’s regime for rising food prices, social instability caused by migration and the violence and frustration that accompany it.


However, the youthful president, at 44 has shown his ability to be both disruptive and flexible. His first post-election speech, facing Eiffel Tower on 24 April opened up new avenues and raised hope for a new course of action. He will, however, need ‘luck’ and resilience in steering France through the tumultuous times the world is going through.


Emmanuel Macron had begun to play an active role in international politics. He must continue the good work. Although he occupies the ‘centre’ in the ideological space in French politics, he was a member of the socialist President Francois Holland’s cabinet. So, Macron may tilt to the left, certainly not right. India’s relations with France have grown manifold under his regime. Since the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in 1998, the bilateral relations have expanded to nuclear and space sector, climate change, cyber security and diplomatic relations.


To recall, France has stood by India at critical junctures. When Jammu and Kashmir was trifurcated by Government of India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting Paris weeks after this historic decision, Macron did not mention J&K. Again, when Pakistan, at the behest of China brought it up in a closed UNSC meeting, France supported India. In fact, observers have begun to term France as the New Russia. This means that like Russia, rather Soviet Union in the past, France has been consistently supporting India in international forum.


New Delhi could count on a tested and tried friend like Macron, in order to build on Indo-Frenchties. The world needs more leaders to be on the Centre to build societies that function in cooperation and co-existence. No wonder, three European heads of governments on the progressive side wrote a joint edit-page article in Le Monde supporting Macron’s re-election.  They were Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.


On 25 April, the entire Europe heaved a sigh of relief as the extreme right Le Pen got defeated. She would have disrupted the texture of European liberal politics, and altered the political and strategic alliances carefully built over the years. By implication, it bodes well for India to have a trusted supporter in the Western world. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)


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