France's Macron's easy win despite challenges: 5 points on the centrist leader
Macron defeated his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen for the second time Sunday, becoming the first French president in 20 years to earn a second term.
Over the five-year course as France's president, Emmanuel Macron is said to have gone from a young novice to a world leader and weighty decision-maker in the European Union. The 44-year-old, who is the youngest French president to date, has shown constant diplomatic activism, especially in Ukraine's war with Russia, earning the confidence of not just his country but also international leaders for a second term.
Macron's rise to the presidential seat was led by a series of political surprises — including a corruption scandal involving a key rival. In 2017, he beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in their runoff that year on promises to free up France’s economy to boost job creation and attract foreign investment. He beat her again Sunday, but the race was closer this time.
Here are 5 things to know about French president Emmanuel Macron:
1. Emmanuel Macron has won a second term, the first French president to do so in 20 years . Opinion polls revealed many French people praise his presidential stature and consider him up to the job to face major global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict.
2. Macron has been deeply involved in efforts to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. The outspoken 44-year-old centrist, with his non-stop diplomatic activism, doesn’t always get his way but has earned his place on the international scene, highlights a report by news agency AP.
3. A strong advocate of entrepreneurial spirit, he eased France's rules to hire and fire workers and made it harder to get unemployment benefits. Critics have accused him of destroying worker protections. However, during the pandemic he acknowledged the crucial role of the state in supporting the economy, spending massively and vowing to support employees and business via public aid “whatever it costs.”
4. At home, Macron managed to regain some popularity after the “yellow vest” protests against social injustice sent his approval to record lows in 2018. During the time, however, he was dubbed “president of the rich” as critics denounced his perceived authoritarian attitude, holding him responsible for violent incidents involving police. He is also perceived as arrogant and out of touch with ordinary people.
5. Macron studied at France’s elite school Ecole Nationale d’Administration, and he was a senior civil servant, then a banker at Rothschild for a few years. He emerged onto the political scene from that backstage role when he served as economy minister in Hollande’s government from 2014 to 2016. The job of president is his first elected office, though he came with a strong pedigree.