Can Europe relax over France's election result?

Article published on April 24, 2017
Article published on April 24, 2017

Sunday saw En Marche! leader Emmanuel Macron and the Front National's Marine Le Pen advance to the second round of voting in the French presidential elections. Some commentators are relieved, believing Macron will easily see off Le Pen, but others are less optimistic...

Great news for the EU - La Repubblica, Italy

Thanks to Macron the EU can still be saved, La Repubblica comments in delight:

"For all those who see Europe as an obstacle to their ambitions for power, a victory for Marine Le Pen would be a blessing while the triumph of Emmanuel Macron would without doubt be a dreadful setback. Since Mitterrand's death France has been governed by presidents who were lukewarm about the idea of European integration, like Chirac, or too weak to give that integration the decisive push, like Hollande. A victory for Macron is likely to considerably accelerate the project of a two-speed Europe so far only outlined by Merkel. An economically, politically and also militarily more integrated, robust Europe could produce a marked shift in the global balance of power, to the detriment of those who dream of a weak or non-existent EU." (24/04/2017)

Back to the future - Delo, Slovenia

The first round of the French election has left Delo with a sense of déjà-vu:

"History doesn't always repeat itself, but in a way the French are back in the year 2002 after yesterday's first round of the presidential election, when Jacques Chirac and the nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the second round but the latter then lost right down the line. This time, too, the French seem to have 'come back to the future' half way towards electing their new president, and we can only hope things remain that way - and that voters don't fall for Le Pen. Because if the humanist European spirit escapes from the French bottle it will be gone everywhere. Macron believes in it, and in the European project. His potential victory in the runoff on 7 May won't be the end of it." (24/04/2017)

Not out of the woods yet - Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland

It is by no means certain that Marine Le Pen will lose in the second round, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung points out

"The ultranationalist Marine Le Pen is now on the doorstep of the Elysée Palace. She's a woman with a clear profile. Even if she says she's neither left nor right, her basic stance is on the far right of the political spectrum: the strong state gives the orders, it's the people's job to obey. There's little room for freedom or personal responsibility... The polls are predicting a clear defeat for Le Pen in the second round of these presidential elections on 7 May. But the 'front républicain' against the far right can no longer be relied on and a victory for Le Pen is now possible - if enough conservatives defect to her camp and a sufficient number of disappointed leftists abstain from voting. To beat Le Pen in a convincing way, Macron will have to sharpen his profile. It's not enough just to look nice." (24/04/2017)

Macron's next challenge is much harder - Lidové Noviny, Czech Republic

Emmanuel Macron winning the race for the presidency is by no means a sure thing also as far as Lidové noviny is concerned:

"He must consolidate his position in the second round, but even then he won't have won yet because in the summer the French will elect a new parliament. Experience shows that the voters won't necessarily support Macron. His new movement En Marche! is still in its infancy... The French are counting on the possibility of a cohabitation, in other words a constellation with a president and prime minister with different political orientations. In an extreme case the position of a weak president who only has any real influence in the areas of diplomacy and defence awaits Macron. This would be bad news for Europe. Almost as bad as if Le Pen had won." (24/04/2017)

Europe divides the French - Observador, Portugal

France is a divided country after the first round of the election, Observador observes:

"By voting for Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon more than 40 percent of the French have voted against the EU and the euro. Almost as many as voted for Europe by opting for Emmanuel Macron, François Fillon and Benoît Hamon. France has thus shown itself to be just as divided as the United Kingdom last year in the Brexit referendum. But the big difference is this: while in Britain the big parties are still calling the shots, in France for the first time the two parties that have shaped the history of the French Republic didn't make it to the runoff vote... The problem, however, is not just the marginalisation of the Gaullists and the Socialists. The biggest problem is that neither the pro-European Macron nor the anti-European Le Pen represent a real alternative." (24/04/2017)

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