How long has it been since France was fashionable? On the cutting edge? Let’s just say it’s been long – a long, long time.
Today though, in a single stroke, France is once again at the forefront. At the forefront of Europe – and of liberal democracy. With the electric election of boy wonder Emmanuel Macron as their President, and with the decisive defeat of his opponent, right-wing, anti-Europe, pro-Russia Marine Le Pen, the French have stood strong against the nationalism and populism that recently threatened the West generally, and Europe particularly.
For all his youth – he is not yet 40 – Macron is a Renaissance man. A pianist of the first rank, highly literate, brilliant in economics and finance, a self-made man of considerable wealth, he is as bold as he is brilliant. To signal his break with the past, a year ago Macron ditched the prevailing party system. He simply started his own political party – En Marche; Forward in English – and proceeded to use it as a platform from which to launch his campaign for president.
Of course, this story of stunning electoral success is not only about the leader, but the followers. In this case French voters, who, unlike their British counterparts, chose in no uncertain terms to gamble on a favored European future rather than to retreat to an imagined, isolated, past.
Of course, France faces formidable challenges, and for all his abundant gifts, Macron is no magician. Still, he is, the overwhelming majority of French voters fortunately, felicitously, decided, the man for this season.