EDITORIAL

A positive moment for France and the world

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IN a presidential election of far-reaching and global importance, France elected decisively on Sunday centrist Emmanuel Macron as its new President, the youngest ever in history.

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Macron, just 39 years old, headed off the fierce challenge of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the pivotal vote that could determine the future of the divided country of 67 million people and all Europe.

Macron has promised to heal France after a vicious campaign that has exposed deep economic and social divisions, as well as tensions around the issues of ethnic identity and immigration.

Vote results showed Macron winning between 66 percent of the ballots ahead of Le Pen, who got about 34 percent.

On election night, the European anthem “Ode to Joy” played as he strode out to address a French crowd at the Louvre.

“France has won!” he said. “Everyone said it was impossible. But they do not know France!”

Marine Le Pen graciously called Macron to concede after voters rejected her “French-first” nationalism by a large margin. The vote punctured her hopes that the populist wave which swept Donald Trump into the White House and led Britain to leave the EU would also carry her to France’s Elysee Palace.

But it is Macron who is now poised to become one of Europe’s most powerful leaders, and will carry forward the challenging agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.

The election result will resonate worldwide, well beyond Brussels and Berlin where leaders will breathe a sigh of relief that Le Pen’s anti-EU and anti-globalization program has been defeated.

We think that with this electoral verdict, France will enhance its historic standing in the world. Many are aware that when Britain leaves the EU in 2019, France will become the EU’s only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

From our part of the world, Macron’s victory will be welcomed by all Asean countries, whose regional community bears close ties with the European Union.

President Duterte has congratulated the new French President and has expressed his readiness to work with him to advance cooperation and amity between the Philippines and France.

Filipinos, no less than other peoples, considered the French election as a weather vane for populism, and for how much farther Europe will retreat from globalism.

Le Pen portrayed the vote as a contest between the globalists—who favor open trade, immigration and shared sovereignty—and her vision of strong borders and nationalism.

France by its vote has clearly voted to engage itself even more closely with the world. Hence, we expect economic links between France and the Philippines to grow and expand.

Macron will try to enact his domestic and international agenda, even though he has no political party; he can try to fashion a working parliamentary majority in legislative elections scheduled next month.

Macron’s En Marche movement—which is “neither of the left, nor the right”— has vowed to field candidates in all 577 constituencies in the parliamentary vote, with half of them women and half newcomers to politics.

Many French analysts are skeptical about Macron’s ability to win a majority with En Marche candidates alone, but he could also form a coalition of lawmakers behind his agenda.

Finally, it’s well to remember that President Macron also inherits a country that is still in a state of emergency following a string of Islamist-inspired attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 230 people.

The vote Sunday followed one of the most unpredictable election campaigns in modern history, which saw angry voters rejecting establishment figures, including one-time favorite Francois Fillon, a rightwing ex-prime minister. Outgoing President Francois Hollande was forced by the polls not to seek re-election.

All in all, Macron’s electoral victory is a positive moment for France, so the world can expect the European country to be a strong partner for world peace, stability and prosperity.

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