France. This spring’s presidential election was held in France for the first half of the year. In the Socialist primary elections on January 22, former Housing Minister Benôit Hamon won 35% of the vote, against former Prime Minister Manuel Valls who got 31%. Both thus went on to the second round on January 29, where Hamon took home the victory. In connection with the election, opinion polls were made which showed, however, that the socialists, regardless of the candidate, could not even reach the second round of the presidential election; In addition, the Socialist President Francois Hollande was too unpopular. The measurements showed that National Front’s Marine Le Pen, former Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron and Republican François Fillon would move on.
However, Fillon had to be harshly criticized for exploiting his position and favoring his family members; two of the children and his wife got a job through his care, which should have generated almost EUR 1 million. In addition, his wife, Penelope Fillon, should not have done any work even though she was employed as his assistant in Parliament. In March, therefore, a preliminary investigation was initiated against François Fillon. Now the issue was not only about undue nepotism (that is, a moral issue) but also misrepresentation, misconduct and misuse of public funds. Thus, the fate of the Republican candidate was sealed.
In the first round of the April 23 presidential election, center candidate Emmanuel Macron and right-wing populist Marine Le Pen won. According to Countryaah.com, Macron received 23.9% of the vote, Le Pen 21.4%, Republican Fillon 19.9%, Left Party Jean-Luc Mélenchon 19.6% and Socialist Party Hamon just 6.3%. After the election, both Mélenchon and Hamon urged voters to support Macron’s center movement En marche (‘On the way’). For the first time in 60 years, the two largest parties, the Socialists and Republicans, would not be represented in the presidential election.
It became a minor landslide victory for Emmanuel Macron in the final round of the May 7 presidential election; he received 66% of the vote, against Marine Le Pen’s 34%, and the honor of becoming France’s youngest leader since Napoleon’s days. However, turnout was low, 74.6%, the lowest figure since 1969. In addition, a record number of people voted blankly, 11.5%.
After the election, the Socialist Party’s Benôit Hamon announced his intention to launch a new left-wing movement, in the hope that the French socialists could rise like Bird Fenix from the ashes after the least disastrous election. As if that was not enough, former Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced at the same time that he would move to Macron’s La République party. In December, Republicans elected 42-year-old Laurent Wauquiez new party leader in hopes of a new successful era for the party.
On May 15, President Macron appointed right-wing politician Édouard Philippe as prime minister. Philippe was previously mayor of Le Havre. When the government was presented on May 17, it consisted of, among others, Bruno Le Maire (Minister of Finance), François Bayrou (Minister of Justice), Sylvie Goulard (Minister of Defense) and Jean-Yves Le Drian (Minister of Foreign Affairs). Just over a month later, both Goulard and Bayrou resigned because of suspicions of false employment in the European Parliament. They were replaced by Nicole Belloubet (Minister of Justice) and Florence Parly (Minister of Defense). The National Front’s party leader Marine Le Pen was also accused of misuse of EU funds. A total of 17 French EU parliamentarians and 40 assistants were involved in a tavern where € 5 million had been fraudulently obtained through false employment.
In the second round of the French parliamentary elections on 18 June, Emmanuel Macron’s party La République received a march of his own with 308 seats in the National Assembly; together with the support party Democratic Movement (MoDem), 350 seats were taken out of a total of 577. The big loser was the Socialist Party which lost about 200 seats and ended up with 29 seats. Party leader Jean-Christophe Cambadélis therefore announced his departure. Losers were also the Republicans, who got 113 seats, and the National Front, which got 8 seats. The turnout was very low, only 43%. Not since 1958 had the ballot boxes been so badly visited. Three quarters of the National Assembly got brand new members; the proportion of women in the ward reached a record high of 38.5%.
This year, too, France was spared terrorism. In early February, a soldier, who suffered minor injuries, was attacked by an Egyptian citizen with machete at the Louvre Museum in central Paris. The man was shot to death. On April 20, a police officer was shot dead against a police bus on the parade street Champs-Élysées in Paris. In August, six soldiers were hit by a car in the Levallois-Perret in Paris’s northwest suburbs; two soldiers were seriously injured. The same month, a 13-year-old girl died when a car drove into the outdoor restaurant to a pizzeria in Sept-Sorts east of the capital. Four people suffered life-threatening injuries. However, according to the authorities, the act had no connection to terrorism. The 39-year-old driver was arrested and stated he wanted to take his life.
In celebration of National Day July 14, US President Donald Trump visited Paris to attend the ceremonies. President Macron also visited Nice for a commemoration on the anniversary of the 2016 terror attack in the city, when 86 people died.
President Macron and the new government presented new reforms during the summer, including a proposal to reduce the number of seats in both chambers of Parliament (the Senate and the National Assembly) by a third. Prime Minister Philippe promised in July to lower the corporate tax rate from 33.3 to 25% over the next five years. Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot and the government decided, also in July, to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars from 2040. This is to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. In August, the president presented a controversial proposal, namely that his wife Brigitte Macron be the country’s “first lady”. Critics warned of this Americanization of the presidential office and also pointed out that during the election campaign, Macron promised to clear out the sly politics.
After President Macron’s landslide victory in June, his popularity figures dropped. According to the Le Journal de Dimanche magazine, in August 57% of those surveyed were dissatisfied with the president; only 40% were satisfied.
On August 31, President Macron presented his disputed proposal for changes in the Labor Market Act. Increased opportunities for project employment as well as local negotiations on working conditions must overcome the unemployment rate, which stands at 10%. But opposition to the proposal was fierce from the left; the big unions were against it too. In September, therefore, upwards of 400,000 supporters of the country’s largest trade union demonstration demonstrated CGT across the country.
In a line item at the end of September, Macron presented its dream of the EU. For example, a stronger Union needs a common defense doctrine and a common defense budget, and that corporate taxes and several other taxes have a common level. He also proposed a common asylum authority for the whole EU. In short: Macron’s dream is a United States of Europe.
Despite the macronutical dream of a united Europe, France decided in October to extend its border controls to April 30, 2018. They were introduced in November 2015 after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
In October, Minister of Women Marlène Schiappa announced that she will present a bill in 2018 that allows men who abuse women in the public environment to be fined directly on the spot.
In connection with the EU summit in Gothenburg in November, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and President Macron agreed on joint climate cooperation, a collaboration on green innovation. Together, they wrote on Dagens Nyheter’s debate page that this “French-Swedish innovation partnership will create great value for our citizens and contribute to a more innovative and green EU”.