France has saved the world! At least, that’s what far too many headlines and social media posts have proclaimed. The overwhelming landslide by Emmanuel Macron is definitely a victory over nationalism. But is it a vote for clear, rational centrist policies?
Judging by what is being celebrated, this is simply a negative victory at this stage in that a bogeyman has been slain. “It could be worse” is hardly a platform for running a government, let alone defining the future. But there is hope that Macron may yet provide the leadership that the world is desperately hungry for – an intelligent and decisive way forward. Time will indeed tell as Macron, and France, gets down to work.
The time was a year before the Euro launched, the place was the tiny town of Burghausen, Germany. Busloads of people from their sister city in France were welcomed with fluttering tricolors silently proclaiming liberty, equality, and brotherhood. It was declared “French Week” through the town as menus in German gave way to French and the whole town celebrated unity.
I asked Herr Mitterer, the owner of the Hotel Post, if this grand “Eurozone” idea was going to work. “It has to,” he replied, “We’ve seen the alternative.”
Underneath the giddy celebrations at the end of a long period of expansion, the Euro was launched in 1999. It was always a forced marriage, a necessity blessed like any marriage with talk of happiness and great times ahead. But at the first sign of trouble the cracks are showing. Fourteen years on it is at a turning point – move closer or forget the whole thing?