Thursday, 27 July, 2017

French President-elect Macron gears up for challenges ahead

Saul Franklin | 12 May, 2017, 04:01

Emmanuel Macron's ascent to French president caps a stunning rise for the political newcomer and his fledgling party but he now faces another battle to form a parliamentary majority, with his rivals already plotting revenge in June's general election.

The German leader and her government had thrown their support behind Macron against far-right and anti-EU challenger Marine Le Pen during the campaign for the French presidential election.

The party's Vice President, Florian Philippot, who is gay, said the party must now undergo major change, with a new name being inevitable.

Le Pen, leader of far-right party the National Front, had accused Macron of being "weak" on Islamist terrorism shortly after she scooped 21.4 per cent of the popular vote in the first round of voting, on April 23.

Macron, who is strongly pro-EU was the candidate most favoured in the financial markets given that his election means virtually zero chance of France leaving either the euro or the EU.

Similarly, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that now Macron must be allowed to succeed because "if he fails, then Madame Le Pen will be president in five years' time".

Le Pen had called for France to leave the 28-nation European Union and drop the shared euro currency in favour of reinstating the French franc.

European shares are set to open higher on Monday, surging to fresh highs after Emmanuel Macron was elected French president with a business-friendly vision of European integration.

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He will be the eighth president of the French Fifth Republic.

French deputy to the European Parliament Sylvie Goulard said Macron would make Berlin his first official visit, with perhaps a stop to see French troops stationed overseas as well.

"The National Front must also renew itself", Le Pen told supporters near Paris after initial exit polls put her at 34% of the vote.

Claiming a "massive" result of 33.9 percent - a record for the FN - she promised "a profound transformation" of the party to widen its appeal.

"Another part of it is linked to the policies of the European Central Bank which we can't influence", Merkel added. Macron is the first president of modern France elected as an independent.

One of those at Sunday's victory rally, 50-year-old nuclear technician Alain Perrouault, said he had voted for Macron primarily to counter Le Pen.

But this could still be a bad year for the EU: Italian elections could see an anti-Euro movement become the biggest party and Greek finances could damage the value of the Euro. France's CAC 40 index, which last week touched the highest level since early 2008, slipped 0.8 percent to 5,391 on Monday.

Helena Alves, Thomas Adamson, Philippe Sotto in Paris and Carlo Piovano in London contributed.

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