At 7:00 P.M. on May 7 my eyes were fixed on my laptop screen as I rapidly refreshed the New York Times live coverage map of the French election. Only minutes later I felt a sense of giddiness, a sensation felt by tens of millions of anxious political junkies. The wave of populism that brought Trump and Brexit appeared to have collapsed or at least calmed. Later that night the centrist Emmanuel Macron assumed the title of France’s President-Elect.
Under his presidency, there will likely not be a referendum on France’s membership to the EU. The EU is more likely to stay together, as there is less uncertainty about member nations dropping out. That’s all great, but they are not what Macron will do, rather what he will not do. He will not hold a referendum, or talk viciously about minorities. The election of Macron is important not because of his elusive agenda or centrist policies, but most importantly because of who was not elected as president of France: Marine Le Pen.
Macron promises a stronger EU and to improve the ailing French economy. With a background in banking and serving as a french economic minister, Macron has the experience to help France with its finances. He also pledges to improve security by hiring more police and cutting non-refugee immigration.
May 7 was a triumph of mediocrity, Macron’s promises have merit, but with any campaign promises, they should be taken with a grain of salt. But that is irrelevant because the real, immediate victory was not Macron’s win, but the defeat of a crude and racist strain of populism.
Macron will largely stick with the status quo. This is a certainly the more favorable outcome for the ASL community.
Le Pen, the leader of the National Front far-right party, supports leaving the EU, creating a “smart protectionist” trade system and severely limiting immigration. Le Pen and her party have also faced allegations of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism because of numerous Holocaust denial and anti-Muslim scandals.
This presidential election could have had profound consequences on ASL if Le Pen were to have won. Although ASL is an American school, it is also an international school. If French voters elected Marine Le Pen, then France may have “Frexited”, and an EU without France would not be viable because the EU would only have the membership of one major country. This affects so many aspects of the student body. Parents would be shuffled around Europe and companies would be forced to be restructured. This is because operating in Europe would more be challenging from one large office because the single market would cease to exist. Alternatives would be a nightmare to organize because if the EU collapsed than the Schengen area would as well, and ASL’s European (non-UK) community might come into decline.
Although Macron’s victory is generally positive for France, Europe and ASL, there is one downside to this election: Brexit negotiations. Macron favors a ‘hard Brexit’ where access to the single market, along with other EU benefits, would be prohibited. Furthermore, the EU’s future is a little more certain now that France, a major European country, has a pro-EU leader. Although a unified Europe is good for the world economy, it is bad for Brexit Britain.
Macron remains divisive in France and will have a tough time building support in the Parliament, but ultimately the French people made the right choice.
Written by Staff Writer Jonathan Philips (’19)