This Sunday, Emmanuel Macron, 39, assumed the presidency of France. The inauguration ceremony took place in the Elysée Palace. He pledged French people to embrace the future and help him make a nation of the first rank.

Macron was practically unknown three years ago; however, he got a reassuring victory in the presidential runoff last May 7 (66.1 percent of the votes). Macron is ready to work, later this Sunday he visited wounded soldiers at the military hospital, located outside Paris, and he is meeting German Chancellor, Angela Merkel to discuss important issues for the European Union, this Monday.

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“I reassure you that not for a single second did I think that everything changed as if by magic on May 7,” Mr. Macron said of the day he was elected. “This will be slow work, demanding, but indispensable. It will be up to me to convince the French that our country, which seems threatened by the sometimes contrary winds of the world, carries in its heart all the resources to be a nation of the first rank.”

The youngest president of the French Fifth Republic

Macron is just 39 years old and a former investment banker. He studied philosophy at Paris-Nanterre University, he made a master of public affairs and then he graduated from the École Nationale d’Administration. He was a member of the Socialist Party during the 2006-2009 period. Later, Francois Hollande appointed him as Deputy Secretary General in 2012 and then Macron was appointed as Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs in 2014. He pushed for business-friendly reforms. He became a presidential candidate in the 2017 elections with the support of En Marche!, the political party he founded in 2016.

He was practically unknown before his candidacy, but he managed to go the run-off against Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the National Front, after no candidate achieved the majority in the first round on April 23 (Macron got 24 percent of the votes) and he won with 66.1 percent of the votes. He says he is not of the right nor the left; therefore some have characterized Macron as a centrist and a liberal politician. He was the sole pro-UE candidate and he wants to introduce legislation to modernize France and its economy.

He stated his desires to restore the status of France in Europe and the World and to reduce the divisions within the French population, which were encouraged by Le Pen, instead. He also said that he wished to reduce unemployment.

Image credit: Robert Pratta / Reuters  / The Atlantic
Image credit: Robert Pratta / Reuters
/ The Atlantic

“The division and fractures in our society must be overcome. I know that the French expect much from me. Nothing will make me stop defending the higher interests of France and from working to reconcile the French,” Macron declared.

Macron has a busy schedule

Hours before he assumed as president, he held a meeting with now ex-president Francois Hollande, who handed Macron the official access to France’s nuclear codes.

After his inaugural ceremony, he was driven to the Arc of Triomphe by a military jeep instead of a traditional civilian limousine, where he lit up a flame in tribute to France’s war dead at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He shook hands with all the people who greeted and congratulated him, something very unusual. He will visit French troops in Mali and the Central African Republic next Friday.

Macron is a convinced integrationist. He thinks that, in spite of the Brexit, France must stay in the European Union. He said that Europe and the world need a strong France. To strengthen the relations with the UE, he will hold a meeting this Monday with Angela Merkel in Berlin to talk about immigration, financial matters and the future of the organization.

However, uniting France itself might be an issue for Macron. He must try to win the parliamentary majority in the upcoming elections next June.

Macron wants to make France strong and confident

President Macron said that his term will be guided by two things: Making France prosperous and strong and making the country gain back the confidence in itself.

Currently, the country faces high rates of unemployment, especially among the youth. As well, the population fears terrorism due to the terrible attacks that have taken place in France in the last years, causing more than 200 casualties. The consequences of this elements have created populism of the right to rise all over Europe, which can be dangerous and it is something Macron is ready to fight.

An essential part in Macron’s victory was that Hollande didn’t run for a second term (his popularity decrease as he could not ease unemployment rates). As well, because of the corruption scandal faced by one of his opponents, former prime minister Francois Fillon, who hired his children and wife to work for him. He was being investigated for embezzlement. On the other hand, Le Pen was seen by many as someone who didn’t represent the French traditions.

The future is not so easy for Mr. Macron with all the problems happening inside and outside France. However, Laurent Fabius – the president of the constitutional council – made referent during today’s ceremony to the president’s efforts to forge new politics for France.

“Chateaubriand wrote a formula that fully makes sense: To be a man of his country, one must be a man of his times,’” Mr. Fabius said, adding that Macron is both things.

Source: The New York Times