Battered Europe Gets Reprieve with Macron Victory
Europe's political establishment entered 2017 in a state of panic. Britain had voted to leave the European Union six months before and the United States had just elected a president who was hostile to their grand project and the values it stood for.
The same forces that had led to Brexit and Donald Trump - popular anger with distant elites, economic inequality and immigration - threatened to hit the continent hard in a year in which Europe's largest countries were holding elections.
The biggest risk of all was France, a country with an ailing economy, historic ambivalence towards the EU and a politician, in National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who seemed well positioned to seize on voter fears.
Instead, on Sunday, Le Pen was soundly defeated by Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old independent who ran on an unashamedly pro-European platform.
Macron urged the French to embrace rather than reject globalisation. And he vowed to work with Germany to relaunch the European Union, a project long seen as a guarantor of peace and prosperity but one which is now struggling to find its "raison d'etre" after years of crisis.
Macron's victory represents a reprieve for Europe and the liberal democratic values for which it has stood for more than half a century.
The nightmare scenarios that were whispered about in European capitals in early 2017 have not materialised. Europe has been given another chance. Those are the main messages from Macron's victory and they were reflected in the reactions from Europe on Sunday.
"Hurrah Macron President! There is hope for Europe!" Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni tweeted.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman called it a victory for a "strong united Europe" and for German-French friendship.
Source: Al Alam