After Election, France’s President-Elect Gets Congratulations but Has Little Time to Celebrate

Emmanuel Macron received congratulations from around the world — including Moscow — on Monday after French voters made the centrist political neophyte their new president and rejected anti-E.U. firebrand Marine Le Pen.

But the raucous celebration among Macron supporters Sunday night — which also served as pep rally for the European Union — quickly gave way to the steep challenges ahead for Macron’s untested leadership.

Among the immediate demands will be trying to maintain momentum in next month’s parliamentary election, in which hundreds of candidates will run under the banner of Macron’s year-old movement, En Marche, or Onward.

The longer-term hurdles are even more daunting. The 39-year-old Macron must try to pull together a nation left with many of the same political scars carried by the United States: deeply divided voters and lingering suspicions of Russian hacking to try to sway the results.

On Monday morning, Macron joined his mentor and soon-to-be-predecessor, François Hollande, in laying a wreath in honor of the country’s war dead on Victory in Europe Day.

The outgoing president made time to pat Macron on the back and to offer an apparently heartfelt “Bravo,” a sentiment echoed by leaders from around the world, including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

In a message to Macron — who has taken a tough line with Moscow — Putin urged the president-elect to “overcome mutual distrust” and wished him “strong health.”

Macron, the youngest French leader since Napoleon, will be inaugurated Sunday and will have little time to adjust to his new office before he is thrust back into campaign mode with the parliamentary elections.

Without a majority in the National Assembly — or something close to it — Macron’s five-year tenure as president could be severely compromised before it even starts.

But Macron has beat the odds before.

His election brought to a close a tumultuous and polarized campaign that defied prediction at nearly every turn, although not at the end. Pre-election polls had forecast a sizable Macron victory, and he delivered — winning 66 percent of the vote with an ambitious agenda that borrows from both the right and left.

The landslide was just the latest blow in 2017 for far-right movements that had seemed to be on the march last year but have suffered setbacks in recent months across continental Europe.

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SOURCE: Griff Witte, James McAuley and Isaac Stanley-Becker 
The Washington Post