European newspapers on the presidential election in France: ‘This is only the start, but at least there is now reason to hope’

8 May 2017 – VoxEurop

The European press greet with relief the election of the pro-European 39-year old Emmanuel Macron, and above all, the defeat of his opponent, far-right anti-EU Marine Le Pen.

Now an enormous task awaits the youngest president of France: reform a divided and seemingly unreformable country.

“The clear victory of Macron is an enormous relief for France. The catastrophe threatened by the potential election of an aggressive and demagogic populist has passed”, writes Die Tageszeitung, for whom –


faith and hope have won against pessimism and a widespread spirit of defeat. It's an encouraging sign for democracy and and the good judgment of the electorate. The result of this election is a relief for all of Europe. […] A victory for the Front National in France would have stood as a beacon for the far-right in many other countries on the continent and would have dealt a fatal blow to the EU.

“In the last battle, democracy has won. Shocked, divided, bruised by an intolerant party that was credited up to 42 percent of intended votes during its campaign, France has said no to xenophobia – even if it remains strong, threatening and active”, says Laurent Joffrin, Libération editor, adding that –


in the end, a certain idea of freedom has won out. With this vote it has been shown that the rise of national-populism is not inevitable. And the final paradox of this unprecedented election is that a nation considered old, nostalgic, ever more closed off and resentful, has elected a 39 year old man without a political past, in love with Europe and the open sea.

"A democratic revolt against a failed democracy is possible – this is what the victory of Macron shows. It's good news for a Europe confronted with a wave of nationalism and populism”, writes Marek Beylin. The columnist stresses how –


after Brexit, after Trump, Orbán in Hungary and Kaczyński in Poland, and the growing number of similar groups in the EU, it has seemed impossible to stop the defeat of democracy and a united, peaceful Europe. The far-right in particular has powerful allies — the presidents of Russia and the United States. […] In Europe's most important battle of the 21st century, the French have given proof of an unexpected vitality. […] The choice of the French electorate does not make Macron the victor in this battle. This is only the start, but at least there is now reason to hope

Madrid daily's unsigned editorial starts by affirming that “Emmanuel Macron has obtained a more authoritative win than predicted in the presidential election. His path to victory is an unprecedented result that will be analysed by historians for years to come”. Nevertheless the paper is keeping its eye on Macron:


the challenges that await Macron from here on in are enormous. His most important task is to rescue his compatriots from the malaise that has gripped them. He has to show that his project for reform can dynamise the national economy, and liberate it from the stagnation that has seen it falter in front of Germany and left it at the mercy of extremist, demagogic slogans.

Like someone who has narrowly escaped a heart attack, Europe can raise a glass and give thanks for the victory of Emmanuel Macron. But the glass is less than half full, and if Europe doesn’t change its ways it will only have postponed the fateful day”, writes Timothy Garton Ash. According to the English political theorist,


The next president of France will be a brilliant product of that country’s elite, with a clear understanding of France’s deep structural problems, some good ideas about how to tackle them, a strong policy team, and a deep commitment to the European Union. When a centrist pro-European government has been formed in Berlin after the German election this autumn, there is a chance for these two nations to lead a consolidatory reform of the EU. Savour those drops of champagne while you can, because you’ve already drained the glass. Now for the sobering triple espresso of reality. […] So this is only a reprieve. Everything remains to be done. And Europe is still drinking in the last chance saloon.

“The large majority for Emmanuel Macron is a yes to openness, a yes to Europe and a clear rejection of nationalism and xenophobia. In this sense, the choice is a fundamental one”, Politiken's unsigned editorial reads:


It provides much needed hope and breathing space after the staggering victories for populism and autarchy in the United Kingdom and the United States. The victory of Macron is a victory over short-sightedness. […] But nationalism continues to spread within the heart of the Union. It's not fatal, but it's certainly dangerous.

For the director of Le Temps, Stéphane Benoit-Godet –


Emmanuel Macron has achieved a victory that had seemed impossible. Starting from scratch a year ago, the ex-minister made a mockery of the usual party divisions and is now President. It's a fantastic victory of one man against the system. French politics has suffered for decades from many problems, the most evident being its inability to refresh its political personnel. Emmanuel Macron has put an end to this. […] Macron didn't have any chance when he launched his campaign a year ago. Last Autumn everyone still saw his chances as hopeless. In the end, it might be that he's the ideal candidate for a mission long considered impossible: modernising France.

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