Brexit, security and a parliamentary majority: The issues facing Emmanuel Macron now he is President
The incoming French President Emmanuel Macron1 – the youngest person to ever hold the job at 39 – has a large workload from the moment he enters the lys e 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.
Whether Mr Macron can help stop to the violence against his country, is a different matter – but there is no doubt it is the priority domestically. 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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Tens of thousands of Catholics underwent massive security checks to gather in the Vatican for Pope Francis Easter Sunday Mass. Armed police were stationed on rooftops, army vehicles were positioned at the Vatican1 entrance and metal detectors were used to check people over as they piled into St Peter s Square to celebrate Easter, the biggest festival in the Christian2 calendar. Tourists, pilgrims and people living in Rome flocked to the historic square to hear the religious leader deliver his Easter3 message, the Urbi et Orbi from the central balcony of St Peter s Basilica.
The increased security measures follows a spate of vehicle ramming attacks including in London4 and Stockholm. Security: Pope Francis protected by his bodyguards as he is driven through the crowd after celebrating Easter Sunday Mass. (AP)
In an off-the-cuff speech to the crowds, the 80-year-old pontiff encouraged Catholics to hold on to their fearful hearts as the world is ravaged by wars, sickness and hatred. Traditionally the pope gives no homily or speech during the mass and instead saves any non-religious utterings for the solemn Easter message at noon.
Pontiff: Pope Francis delivers his ‘Urbi et Orbi‘ – the Easter message. (REUTERS)
In his Easter message, Pope Francis appeared to reference the rising tensions between North Korea and the US as he urged world leaders to stop the spread of conflicts . He said: “In the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the Risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace. Star: Pope Francis waving to excited crowds at the Easter Sunday Mass in Vatican City. (REUTERS)
May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.
The Roman Catholic leader also slammed the bomb attack on a bus convoy in Syria, calling it ignoble .
He also called for peace in countries including South Sudan, Somalia, Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
His Easter address today comes as news broke that a 90th birthday party is being planned for former pope, Benedict XV1, whose birthday is actually Easter Sunday but will instead be celebrated on Monday.