Bernard Guetta on French presidential election: Emmanuel Macron will have to restart Europe

9 May 2017 – France Inter (Paris)

The election of the pro-European Emmanuel Macron is good news for Europe and the world because it could reinvigorate the Union with a new burst of passion and energy.

There will be difficulties, as well as frustrations. They'll come fast and they will be numerous, but, more than a just presidential election and a new president, this election is a major event, for France, Europe and the world.

France has taken an audacious and brave risk.

Having sunk into despair and decline, forgetting its rank as fifth economic power in the world, with no self-belief and seeing its future as nothing but the closing of doors and windows, an unrecognisable France has chosen to hand the presidency to a young 39 year old who wanted, one year ago, to shake up the political landscape and take charge, while returning courage, self-esteem and energy, and fighting for the unity of Europe.

The image of France has changed—it's image of itself, and the world's image of it— and this is also a turning point for Europe, for this Union, outside of which none of the European powers would count for anything in the face of the continent-states, emerging and ancient, who will make this new century what it is.

Emmanuel Macron is not just the man who appeared at the Louvre to The Ode To Joy – Europe's anthem. He is, above all, the one who arrives at just the right time. The Union is doing rather poorly, its citizens are dissatisfied, and its leaders have finally understood that it needs fresh momentum, that they need to take a hold of the economy, harmonise its fiscal regimes and social protections, and that, in order to do this, it is necessary to move towards a different Europe, in which those who want to move forward, and fast, can do it and lead by example.

There is consensus on this among the six founding countries and others. Investment in the future will be as important as balancing budgets. The broad strokes have been traced and, whoever happens to be Germany's chancellor in September, Madame Merkel or Martin Schulz, Paris and Berlin are now, with this new president of the republic, not just on the same wavelength, but reinvigorated by youth and energy, by a France which now remembers having invented European unity and means to defend it, tooth and nail.

As for the world, it's simple.

There was Brexit, there was Trump, and there's the ubiquitous rise of the far-right, and suddenly France, which said no to the constitutional treaty, elects a man who says no to fear.

France becomes again the embodiment of audacity. France shows another way forward. France offers hope for the young, urban middle-classes who, around the world, are the battalions for democracy, those who have made the arab revolutions and protested against Putin and Erdoğan, a generation which today stands defeated, but will one day hold power.

Translated from the French by Ciaran Lawless

This article is published in association with Internazionale.

Factual or translation error? Tell us.