France History: En Marche! – Macron

In the first round of the presidential elections on April 23, 2017, eleven applicants took part. President Hollande had renounced a new candidacy. Former Minister of Economic Affairs E. Macron took first place with 24%. A year earlier he had founded the En Marche! Movement, which positioned itself outside the traditional spectrum of parties and promoted a liberal and Europe-friendly reform course. Behind Macron came M. Le Pen , the chairman of the Front National with 21.3%, the Republican F. Fillon with 20%, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (* 1951), the founder of the left movement La France Insoumise (FI) 19.6% and Benoît Hamon (* 1967), the candidate of the Parti Socialiste, a representative of the left wing, with 6.4%. In the runoff election on May 7th, Macron prevailed against Le Pen with 66.1%. Macron was sworn in as President on May 14, 2017. É. Philippe formed a bipartisan government. The Macron formation, renamed “La République en Marche!” 6. 2017 an absolute majority. Socialists and Republicans suffered heavy losses.

On November 1, 2017, the National Assembly introduced numerous provisions of the state of emergency (including increased and unprovoked personal controls) a new security and anti-terror law. In order to accelerate the reform course, the parliament authorized the government in August 2017 to carry out the reforms by ordinance. In negotiations with the trade unions, a fundamental reform of the labor market and unemployment insurance came about in 2017/18. Among other things, it allows company agreements with small and medium-sized companies, simplifies the receipt of unemployment benefits, but at the same time forces the unemployed to take on reasonable jobs. In addition, redundancies for operational reasons were made easier in international corporations. The specialization in high school education (Lycée) was abolished and the last two school years were enriched with aids for professional orientation; the importance of the central Abitur examination decreased. In addition, in-company vocational training for entrepreneurs and trainees was made more practical and more attractive. In addition, a withholding tax for capital gains (from 2018) was introduced, corporation tax was reduced and social tax was increased to compensate for the abolition of social contributions on the part of employees. The withholding tax deduction meant a change of system. Asylum and immigration law was made more restrictive in view of the increased number of migrants in 2017, including faster deportation and fines for illegal stay. Check to see more about France and other countries in the world.

A higher eco-tax on fuels provoked a broad protest movement in November 2018: the “yellow vests” (Gilets jaunes, after the driver’s warning vests). Their actions, initially traffic blockades, were often interpreted as a criticism of the lower middle class against an “anti-social policy” or as “popular anger” of “peripheral France” beyond the big cities at the political and economic elite. In December 2018 and January 2019, there were also riots, especially in Paris. On the other hand, there was criticism of aggressive violence by the police. The government responded by withdrawing the tax increase and promising social improvements. President Macron initiated political discussion forums at the local level (“grand débat national”). With the yellow vests, for which some had distinguished themselves as “speakers”,

Foreign policy since 2000

Three years after the EU constitution was rejected in a referendum, the French parliament ratified the Lisbon Reform Treaty in February 2008. On October 9, 2012, the French National Assembly approved the European Fiscal Compact (European Stability Mechanism). President Sarkozy’s plans to establish closer cooperation with the southern Mediterranean countries within the framework of a Union for the Mediterranean were implemented within the EU. In the Ukraine crisis, France worked with Germany to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict (»Normandy format«). At the same time as President Macron’s initiatives for a comprehensive renewal of the European Union, the Franco-German Treaty (Élysée Treaty) renewed on January 22nd, 2019 on the 56th anniversary of the signing of the Aachen Treaty. Among other things, this provides for increased cooperation at government and civil society level, a coordinated international approach, particularly in security, European and cultural policy, and opportunities for stronger direct cooperation in the border regions (»Eurodistricts«).

While at the same time showing solidarity in arms with its NATO partners in Afghanistan, France pursued a relatively independent policy towards the USA, particularly in its rejection of the American war policy towards Iraq. In 2009, France returned to NATO’s military command structure, from which the country left in 1966. In 2003 France saw itself induced to a political and military intervention in the Ivory Coast and also took over the leadership of an EU reaction force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From October 2007, France participated in the EUFOR peace mission in Chad. In January 2013, France intervened militarily in Mali (“Operation Serval”, expansion to “Operation Barkhane” in 2014) and, at the end of 2013, in the Central African Republic (“Operation Sangaris”).

During the Lebanon conflict in summer 2006, France played a major role in bringing about the ceasefire (UN Resolution 1701), participated with 2,000 soldiers in the UNIFIL troops and organized a donor conference for its former mandate area in 2007 (again in 2018). In 2011 France played a leading role in the international military action against the Gaddhafi regime. From September 2014 the French air force participated in the combat positions of the Islamic State in Iraq and from September 2015 also in Syria. Further demands by President Hollande to take stronger military action against the Asad regime because of its use of chemical weapons failed because of the USA.

France History - En Marche - Macron