16:08 GMT05 December 2020
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    French President Emmanuel Macron has just celebrated his first anniversary in power. Despite initial popularity he has faced challenges both at home and abroad and will have much work to do to regain favour with the masses.

    Sputnik spoke with Jim Shields, Professor of French politics at the University Of Aston for more insights into the issue.

    Sputnik: Has Macron’s first year in office been a success?

    Jim Shields: Measured against what he wanted to achieve, Macron’s first year has been a success. His new party of political novices was not expected to win a parliamentary majority, but was elected last June. He was then expected to be taken down by the unions, but he got his first big reforms of the French labour market through.

    Then he supposed to fall victim to the current wave of strikes against reforms to the SNCF, but it looks like he will win there too and get more reforms through. We’ve become used to in recent years, French presidents buckling at the first sign of opposition, so for sheer resolve and for persevering with his agenda, Macron scores highly in his first year.

    At home he has presided over modest economic recovery and abroad, he has probably has his most noted success in putting France back on the world map. Through diplomatic trips he has been wielding France’s soft power, while not hesitating to use hard power, alongside the US and the UK in Syria.

    Sputnik: Have his political stances changed compared to his initial promises on the election campaign; has he shifted to the right wing?

    Jim Shields: Macron fought his election campaign as a candidate for both the left and the right, but in office his decisions have been decidedly right wing. His agenda is to make France more economically competitive and is all about cutting public spending.

    Macron has gone more radical in some areas; public security and asylum immigration law, where he has received strong criticism from the left. The problem for Macron so far is that his reforms have mainly benefitted the rich, so he needs to re balance this in his second year.

    Sputnik: How do you see Macron’s relationship with Trump developing?

    Jim Shields: The relationship with Trump is intriguing. No French President has the luxury of choosing his American counterpart, but the displays of affection during his recent trip to Washington were both bizarre and embarrassing.

    Macron’s strategy could well be to play along in order for diplomatic gains in Syria and the Iran nuclear deal. It certainly seems to be working so far, as Macron is the only politician to be given a state visit to the US.

    A new special relationship has seemingly begun, which is a big achievement for Macron, who has emerged as the de facto leader of the EU, at a time where Theresa May is troubled by Brexit and Merkel by domestic issues.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Jim Shields and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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