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Brexit, security and a parliamentary majority: The issues now facing Emmanuel Macron

The Independent logo The Independent 8/05/2017 Chris Stevenson

© Provided by Independent Print Limited The incoming French President Emmanuel Macron - the youngest person to ever hold the job at 39 - has a large workload from the moment he enters the Élysée Palace.

Barring parliamentary elections next month, which we will return to later, the three big issues will be national security, the economy and the affect of Brexit on the European Union.

Security is the most pressing matter, the new president will want to look strong on the issue in the wake of a number of attacks on France that have killed more than 230 people in the last 18 months. The fact that Marine Le Pen made it through to the final round of voting on a platform that placed safety of French citizens and national security absolutely front and centre, shows how important it is to the electorate.

As a former Finance Minister in the French government, Mr Macron has made the economy a large part of his manifesto, and the issue is certainly something that has pre-occupied many voters. While statistics have shown modest recovery recently, the employment rate remains stubbornly at around 10 per cent. The success of Mr Macron’s presidency in the long-term will rely on finding a way to bring that down, as well as healing the social divides that have seen many voters turn to extreme ends of the political spectrum - on both left and right.

Outside of France, one of the biggest issues is Brexit. Mr Macron set himself up as the opposite to Ms Le Pen - he is a lover of the European project who wants to see close co-operation with within Europe. Indeed, in his initial victory speech he said he wanted to defend both the values of both France and Europe. Mr Macron will become a key part of talks over Brexit, while he will also looks for a strong relationship between France and Germany - the pivotal one at the heart of Europe. Immediately after his victory, Mr Macron’s team were quick to point out the President-elect had had a ‘warm’ call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

However, Mr Macron's biggest challenge may actually being able to govern. He is expected to name his Prime Minister around the 15th - but that could be temporary. If Mr Macron and his En Marche! movement fail to gain a parliamentary majority in elections next month, then he may have to replace his pick with someone from an opposition party.

That will be a tough task. Mr Macron and his movement have no representation in parliament, he is essentially starting from scratch, and despite his pledge to field candidates – half of them women and half from civil society or local councils – in all 577 parliamentary constituencies there is no guarantee he will come out on top.

He is helped by the fall of the two main parties, the Socialists on the left and Les Republicains on the centre-right, but he will have to weigh up his promise to overhaul the political system with the need to quickly recruit heavy-hitters to ensure his position.

He will try and recruit his ministers from left, right and centre and hope that creates the momentum he needs. While governing with a minority would be difficult, not even being the biggest party in Parliament would leave Mr Macron and his legislative agenda stymied. Taking around 65 per cent of the vote in the presidential election is a strong start that may help push En Marche! towards a majority. If that doesn't come, difficult days could lie ahead.


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