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Mr. Macron’s Next Challenge: Governing

May 19, 2017 4:45 PM
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Mr. Macron’s Next Challenge: Governing

In its balance of experience and freshness, left and right, men and women, the cabinet that France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, announced on Wednesday is a true reflection of the fundamental realignment of French politics that he has promised. But the team’s survival in office — and Mr. Macron’s ability to pursue the fundamental reforms he seeks — will require the same tenacity, brilliance and luck that brought someone as untested and largely unknown as he to power.

The next key to Mr. Macron’s improbable quest lies in the parliamentary elections to be held in two rounds on June 11 and 18. The movement Mr. Macron launched 13 months ago, En Marche! (On the Move!), recently recast as a political party called La République en Marche!, has yet to elect a single deputy to the 577-seat National Assembly. Nonetheless, the party intends to run candidates in almost every district, counting on at least some defections from mainstream parties of left and right.

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Polls suggest that La République en Marche! could do well, but what that means concretely fades rapidly into the unknown. French presidents past have usually ushered a majority into the National Assembly, and even a strong minority would empower Mr. Macron’s party to form effective alliances. But if the center-right Republican party, say, wins a majority — and it is campaigning hard — it would install its own prime minister and cabinet, imposing its own agenda on the president. Mr. Macron’s choice for prime minister, Edouard Philippe, was no doubt made in part with the notion of luring Republicans over. Mr. Philippe, 46, is a Republican defector and one-time top lieutenant to Alain Juppé, a former prime minister who came in second in his party’s primary last year.

Mr. Macron cannot afford delay or political uncertainty. All three of Mr. Macron’s predecessors promised to reform France’s antiquated welfare-state model and bloated civil-service sector, but all backed down before waves of national strikes and street protests. Mr. Macron has argued that labor reforms, lower corporate taxes, reduced public spending and a deep reduction of the civil service are essential to stoke the economy and persuade employers to hire more young workers — a major priority, with a fifth of people under 25 unemployed. But Mr. Macron needs to strike quickly, drawing on the momentum of his election and the novelty of his movement.

Mr. Macron’s meteoric rise affirms both centrist moderation over the fear-mongering of populists and nationalists, and the need to undo France’s economic and political sclerosis. In effect, the cabinet he announced is the launch of his next campaign: You voted for me and my promises, he is saying to France, now give me the tools I need.

Source: nytimes.com

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