French people renew their confidence in Macron
China Daily

Supporters of French President Emmanuel Macron celebrate at the Eiffel Tower in Paris after voters elected him to a second five-year term as France's leader, April 24, 2022. [Photo:Xinhua]

After the second round of the French presidential election on June 24, President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected for a second term of five years. He won 58.54 percent of the votes against Marine Le Pen's 41.46 percent.

The result of this presidential election shows that there are, for the moment, two "opposing Frances". Admittedly, Le Pen, president of the far-right National Rally, has considerably reduced her vote gap against Macron with a softer political program and got a larger percentage of the votes compared with the 2017 election.

At 44, Macron won his second presidential election. And the French people, including those opposed to the president's policy, have chosen the path of continuity by electing him to lead the country until 2027.

The decision-making power of the president will be stronger and more assertive if he has in the National Assembly a majority of deputies favorable to his political line and commitments. We will know more about this after the parliamentary elections on June 12 and 19, which will elect 577 deputies who will play a major role in shaping France's future.

The French deputies, apart from making laws, also have the responsibility of validating European directives. In case Macron fails to win a majority in the National Assembly, he will have to cohabit and negotiate with a prime minister from the opposition.

The president could block laws, refusing to sign or promulgate them, but by doing so, he would create a crisis. On its part, the parliament can validate bills or block government action, and dismiss the government.

With the French president and majority parliamentary party from opposing camps, anything can happen. In case of a serious dispute between the president and the prime minister, however, the president retains extensive powers including that of the chief of the armed forces. In extreme circumstances, the president can even demand full powers for a given period, and govern by referendum.

We will have to wait until June 12 and 19 to see whether the parliamentary elections produce the same result as the presidential election, and whether Macron gets a majority in parliament.

After being re-elected on Sunday, Macron promised that his new term "will not be a continuation of the one that is ending". Does this mean intensification of reforms or another method of governance? We will know more about the reforms later, especially about the purchasing power of the French people, civil servants' salaries, and the dreaded pension reform, a project delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other issues of concern to the French people include immigration, the lack of proportional political representation and transportation facilities, as well as unresolved local problems: planning and innovation in rural areas, the local "anti-car" policy in Paris that has led to the closure of thousands of parking lots, the French capital's struggle to get rid of rats, keep streets safe, remove hurdles from roads, expedite public works, manage concrete blocks in the middle of the streets and squares, clear the traffic mess that the city has become, deal with rising numbers of delinquents, and prevent bankruptcies of local businesses.

Many even say that in France the ecology is deemed punitive for the poor, and the country's healthcare system is weakening, pensions are inadequate to meet the rising expenses due to high inflation, and local and national decisions are disconnected from the well-being of the French people.

When it comes to international relations, some people question the alignment of France with the policies of the United States. The messages from the different heads of state and government to Macron on his re-election have been laudatory, though.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, congratulating Macron on his re-election, said that steady and healthy relations between China and France have increasing strategic importance and their win-win cooperation benefits both countries, as well as the rest of the world.

China's rapid economic growth has, among other things, played a role in France's healthy growth.

Like their countries, the Chinese and French peoples, too, share a lot of things in common. And it is hoped that the two presidents will deepen cooperation under the framework of Sino-French relations and strengthen the bilateral strategic partnership to yield more mutual benefits for the well-being and prosperity of people in the countries and the rest of the world, and work together to build a community with a shared future.

The author is a French expert on international studies and has written many books on China. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.