Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Challenges await President-elect Macron

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Current French President Francois Hollande (centre) is joined by French president-elect Emmanuel Macron (right) during a ceremony to mark Victory Day in Paris, France, yesterday.


It will be a short honeymoon for French President-elect Emmanuel Macron.

France's youngest president, who takes office on Sunday, faces the daunting task of reuniting a troubled, divided nation riven by anxieties about terrorism, chronic unemployment, immigration and France's relationship with the rest of Europe.

Unions held protests yesterday in Paris' Place de la Republique against Macron, a pro-business centrist and former Socialist economy minister who they consider as a traitor for allegedly threatening worker protections with economic reforms.

In the Paris metro, an advertisement was defaced with the words: 'Macron: Not even started, already hated.'

It's nothing new. Violent protests, egg-throwing and heckling disrupted the campaigns of both the president-elect and his defeated far-right rival Marine Le Pen. Those who couldn't stomach either candidate in the presidential run-off protested with slogans reading: 'Neither Fatherland, Nor Boss.'

The French are worried about the cultural, economic and religious impact of immigration and fear France's ability to compete against giants like China and Google.

But the campaign's nastiness turned voters off both the candidates and their proposed remedies. The run-off on Sunday saw a sharp spike in voters who abstained or handed in blank or spoiled ballots representing a third of the electorate.