Emmanuel Macron’s re-election victory marks a historic moment in French political history, as he is the first French president to win re-election while still leading his own government. However, despite his convincing victory over Marine Le Pen, Macron faces significant challenges as he prepares for the upcoming elections to France’s National Assembly. A large section of the electorate dislikes him, and many of his voters are not natural supporters, making it challenging for him to maintain his majority in the upcoming elections. If he fares badly in the June elections, he risks losing his majority and may not be able to form his own government.
Macron’s opponents are calling the next vote a “third round,” indicating the significance of the upcoming elections to the National Assembly. A recent opinion poll indicated that 63% of voters would rather he lost his majority and had to share power with an opposition government, known in France as “co-habitation.” Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has designs on becoming prime minister himself, and if that were to happen, there would be little love lost between him and the president.
Macron’s victory in the presidential election was due in part to the support of voters from mainstream parties, including the Republicans, Greens, and Socialists, who may not back him in the upcoming elections. Moreover, more than a third of voters had either stayed away from the election or voted for no candidate at all, indicating a high level of political apathy in France.
Macron’s immediate priority is to form a new government, replacing Prime Minister Jean Castex, who led France through the Covid pandemic. Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne is seen as a popular choice because of her strong record on social issues, which are Macron’s priority right now. Macron is also believed to want a woman in the job.
Macron’s flagship reform is controversial: raising the pension age from 62 to 65. This reform is not popular among the French people, and Macron will need to listen to their anxieties and find a way to address their concerns. His finance minister has not ruled out forcing the reform through without a vote, which could further polarize French society.
Emmanuel Macron’s re-election victory is a significant achievement, but he faces significant challenges as he prepares for the upcoming elections to the National Assembly. Many of his voters are not natural supporters, and a large section of the electorate dislikes him. He must persuade a jaded electorate to vote for his party by pushing through important reforms quickly. Social reforms are his immediate priority, with the cost of living causing a headache across French society.
Macron must also address the concerns of younger voters, who are particularly focused on environmental issues. He needs to find a way to address the anxieties of the French people about controversial reforms, such as raising the pension age, without further polarizing society.
Macron’s challenge is to adapt to a more democratic way of politics and accept the idea that negotiation is important. He needs to prove that he can be the president for everybody and that no-one will be left by the wayside. The next five years will be critical for Macron, and he must handle them differently from the last, without alienating the French people.