The road ahead for Macron is only getting rougher

French President Emmanuel Macron

Back in June, we considered the "rough road ahead" for French President Emmanuel Macron after his political party, La République En Marche (LREM), took a thrashing in local elections. Since then, things have only gotten tougher for the man once hailed as France's centrist savior.

Here's a snapshot of what's on Macron's plate at home, and what comes next.

Terrorism: France is grappling with a resurgence of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists. The gruesome beheading of a high school teacher on the outskirts of Paris last month, followed by a deadly rampage at a church in the southern city of Nice several days later, sent shockwaves through a country that has lost more of its people to terror attacks in recent years than any other Western country.


In the aftermath, Macron drew fire from Muslim groups as well as international media and analysts who accused him of demonizing law-abiding Muslims in his attempt to condemn the attackers. Some observers have also lambasted the French government for not doing more to help integrate France's large Muslim population, prompting Macron to hit back, accusing the English-language media of "legitimizing this violence." (The New York Times' Ben Smith pressed Macron about this claim in a new interview.)

While Macron says he is simply emphasizing the value of "secularism" in French society — shrugging off accusations that he harbors anti-Muslim sentiments — he also likely has political motivations: Macron beat far-right firebrand Marine Le Pen in elections in 2017, but Le Pen did still win over 10 million French voters with her anti-immigration and anti-Islam agenda. That campaign propelled concerns about France's Muslim population into mainstream French politics, and Macron may now be calculating that using hardline anti-Islam rhetoric will resonate with some French voters.

Implications of COVID. France is one of several European states currently grappling with a major second wave of the pandemic. But Macron has seemed uniquely vulnerable politically: his approval numbers have dipped much more than those of leaders in many other hard-hit countries. The French leader currently has a dismal net approval rating of -28 percent, the lowest among a group of 14 world leaders from major economies.

Part of Macron's problem is that his strengths have become weaknesses. Macron — a stalwart of France's financial elite who had never stood for elected office before winning the top job in 2017 — came to power by exploiting disillusionment with France's traditionally dominant center-left and center-right parties. As anti-establishment furore gripped France, Macron took advantage of the vacuum in French politics by filling that abandoned center.

The trouble for Macron is that he has never successfully created, nor endeared himself to a reliable voting base whose support he can rely on.

In part that's because Macron has played the role of ideological chameleon — he's been described as "president of the rich" because of his pro-business agenda, while also trying to play ball with France's powerful unions. Yet, he's failed to fully captivate either the center right or the center left. This has caused a hemorrhaging of support within his own party, leading to mass defections this year, which caused LREM to lose its parliamentary majority.

The rest of the rough road. Macron faces reelection in two years. He is currently neck-and-neck in the polls with Le Pen, his likely opponent. The fact that Le Pen is deeply polarizing helps Macron in an electoral system that often leads to runoffs (the divisive Le Pen would be very unlikely to crack 50 percent in a head to head with anyone).

But that still leaves Macron with the basic problem of how to govern successfully as a centrist outsider when centrism is losing appeal. It's also hard to play the role of outsider after nearly four years on the job. At the moment, the French people don't seem to be buying it.

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

More Show less

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

After Biden's first visit, do his European allies feel that America is back?

I think they do. Wasn't particularly surprising, we've heard that message before. But now it was, sort of more concrete issues. I'm not certain there was, sort of major, major, major progress. But there was the beginning of a dialogue on trade and technology issues with Europe, clearly on security issues with NATO, and quite a number of other issues with G7, and general satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting with Putin. So, altogether good.

More Show less

Listen: Former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder weighs in on US President Joe Biden's first trip abroad, which included a very important first stop at the G7 summit in the United Kingdom, and the way forward for the US and its closest friends. Did he convince allies that "America is back" and ready to resume its leadership role in global affairs? And if so, does it even matter if Americans still need to be convinced that US engagement in the world is vital? Daalder speaks with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent policy developments:

With the Supreme Court's recent decision, is the Affordable Care Act here to stay?

Yes, this was the Court's third ruling on the Affordable Care Act upholding its constitutionality. This challenge was brought by Republican attorneys general who argued that the repeal of the individual mandate tax undermined the court's previous justification for allowing the law to stand. They were unsuccessful, yet again. And the political salience of the Affordable Care Act has really diminished in the last several years, with Republicans moving on to fight other issues and the Court signaling very strongly they don't want to get involved in overturning this piece of legislation. The Affordable Care Act will be here at least until Congress wants to legislate on it again.

More Show less

Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, shut out from COVAX because of payment problems.

More Show less

3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World Podcast

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World Podcast

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal