Ambassador Craig Stapleton, who served as the U.S. ambassador to France from 2005 to 2009 after holding a similar role in the Czech Republic, discussed what President-elect Emmanuel Macron’s decisive victory means for France, the U.S. and the future of Europe.
“This is a very historic moment,” Ambassador Stapleton said. “Nobody expected him, six months ago, to make it even to the final round [of voting]. Nobody thought he would be the president of France.”
Macron, whose previous experience included a role as an economics minister, ran for the presidency under the banner of a new political party, En Marche, that he started, which may prove to be a difficulty when the time comes to forge political alliances in the French legislature.
“He’s quite knowledgeable about the international financial world,” Stapleton explained. “His problem is that he has no party, and France is governed through its legislature, so he will have to get votes from both the Socialists and Republicans — forging coalitions will be a big challenge.”
Stapleton also elaborated on Macron’s outsider image, saying that although he was not a member of any established party, his path to the presidency was not exactly that of an insurgent candidate.
“He went to the best schools and had an elite status. He ran on the program of the old system not working, and he was a new voice,” Stapleton stated. “He has an establishment background. He is not an insurgent — he was in the system.”
Macron’s campaign favored centrist policies that found middle ground in the space between the country’s right and left wings.
“Centrists usually get picked apart, but in this election, his skill in finding the center in a country that has had trouble finding the center is a huge political accomplishment,” Stapleton stated, adding that the new president-elect will likely pursue a close relationship with the U.S. “From an American point of view, he speaks very good English and is well aware of the relationship between France and the U.S.”
Likewise, Macron will probably favor a similarly stable role for France within the EU and NATO alliance.
“He’s a Eurocentric guy. People who want to keep the EU together are thrilled to have him as the president of France,” Stapleton said. “I presume, as a centrist, he wants to continue France’s role as a military power and its role in NATO.”
With his large victory in Sunday’s election, Macron has already ascended to the world stage and will be a strong voice in international politics.
“He’s an intriguing guy,” Stapleton added. “He’s a world figure already, one of the top five or 10 voices in the world, and he’s got that voice. … He’s going to be one of the most interesting people to watch.”