Macron as President of Crisis and Three Frances
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On April 25, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion on the results of the presidential elections in France. Discussion moderator Oleg Barabanov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, invited the participants to discuss the victory of Emmanuel Macron. He noted that this time, unlike in previous elections, Macron's rival Marine Le Pen won by a wide margin in a number of regions, and this makes the picture "more fragmented" and more interesting than it was five years ago.

Alexander Orlov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the French Republic and the Principality of Monaco in 2008-2017, analysed the situation in which the newly elected President of France found himself following the elections. He called Macron's victory convincing, but stressed that his relatively weak results in the first round make it difficult for the winner to carry out the previous policy. This reflects the difficult situation in which France finds itself, the diplomat said. Discontent has accumulated in the system, and relations between the political elite and the majority of the country's population are in crisis. The problems that gave rise to the "yellow vests" movement have not been resolved. In addition, Macron faces two important tasks. First, we are talking about electoral reform with a transition to a system of proportional representation. Second, the long overdue pension reform is a serious problem. Speaking about French foreign policy, Orlov stressed that Macron focuses on the theme of France’s independence, and with regard to Russia, he tried to remain politically correct, avoiding harsh rhetoric so as to “not burn bridges.”

Evgenia Obichkina, Professor of the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), called Macron's main difficulty his lack of reliance on any strong political party or basic political electorate that would hold certain views for generations. “Macron has a movement, he has levers of power, but there is no mass base,” Obichkina pointed out, adding that popular discontent had constantly turned Macron into a “crisis president” during his first term. While, according to her, Macron's rule has led the country to good economic results, he has made many enemies for himself, which was reflected both in Le Pen's successes and the low turn-out at the polls. Analysing the situation in France as a whole, the expert emphasised that if earlier there were two Frances - right and left, with a predominance of the centrist spectrum in both, now there are three of them, with a comparative radicalisation of the right and left and the separation of the centre into a selected force. Thus, Macron will probably reflect, in implementing his programme - republican, humanistic, European and ideological values - to constantly reckon with powerful pressure from both flanks.