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Presidential Winner Macron Promises To Renew Confidence In France


It was an election for the history books. Emmanuel Macron became the youngest person to ever hold the French presidency. Speaking to crowds last night outside the Louvre, Macron promised to bring, quote, "hope and renewed confidence" to France. He's an independent centrist who has never held elected office. And he didn't just skate by in this vote. He won resoundingly. So what does that portend for France's future? We're joined now by French journalist and author Anne Nivat.

Anne, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

ANNE NIVAT: Good morning.

MARTIN: How do you see the significance of Macron's win?

NIVAT: Well, it's - it's a big thing because France was totally in waiting for this, the result of this election. Never forget that facing him there was Marine Le Pen, who is from the extreme right. And that is something completely new because this guy, Emmanuel Macron, is not even 40. And he's built himself more on intuition than anything else because he's never been locally elected. He has never been elected at all. So it's a big step into the unknown, yes. And yet, it's also a big step into something completely new, a new political order completely different from the mainstream parties. And this is something that the French people wanted.

MARTIN: These two candidates were so different. It was such a clear choice between Macron and Le Pen. She wanted, for example, out of the EU. Macron said no, France's future lies within the EU.

NIVAT: Right.

MARTIN: What does that mean for this debate about EU membership? Is it over now?

NIVAT: No, it's not - well, yes, it's over in the sense that our new president is not in favor of the Frexit - the so-called Frexit, exiting the European Union. So - and Angela Merkel, the German in charge with Germany, she is happy with that. But, I mean, the anger, the anxiety, the doubts of half of the French people are something that the new president, Emmanuel Macron, will have to deal with.

And he already mentioned that in his speech because you have in France many people - 40 percent of the people already, almost, who feel marginalized by globalization, by what means the EU, by economic stagnation, by high unemployment, people who are shocked by this nonstop tide of immigrants. And so they think that these people, immigrants, might take what - the few that they have left. So that is the kind of topics of issue that the new president, Emmanuel Macron, will have to deal with. It's not going to be easy.

MARTIN: He also is going to face a challenge with the Parliament, right? He created his own party. And now he is going to be president, but he needs...

NIVAT: You're right.

MARTIN: ...To create some kind of coalition.

NIVAT: Well, it's not even a party. Barely a year ago, he had nothing. He was just a minister of economy of the current government. That's all. And then, he quit this government. So he has nothing. He has a political movement. Nobody knows who are these people from this movement. And now he - we have parliamentary elections due in a month exactly. And of course, for him, in order to feel better as a president, he would need a big parliamentary majority. But we don't know if it's going to happen. There is a lot of skepticism.

MARTIN: French journalist Anne Nivat, her most recent book is called, "Which Way France." Thanks so much, Anne.

NIVAT: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF J-WALK'S "FRENCH LETTER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.