Macron to run again: key moments in his 5-year term



French President Emmanuel Macron has formally announced that he will seek a second term in April’s presidential election.

Elected in May 2017, with little political experience, the centrist politician quickly took on his new role of president when meeting with other world leaders. I have faced major crises at home and in the world. A look at some key moments in his term of him.

VICTORY PARTY AT LE LOUVRE

Moments after his 2017 victory, the 39-year-old Macron slowly walked to the stage in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum in Paris, progressively appearing in the light to the sound of the European anthem “Ode to Joy” — a very symbolic moment before the crowd of supporters roared.

France’s new president sought to adopt the attitude expected of a statesman — a new world for a man who long remained in the shadows.

HANDSHAKE SHOWDOWN WITH TRUMP

US President Donald Trump met his match in a handshake showdown with Macron. At their first meeting, soon after Macron’s election ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels, the two men locked hands for so long that knuckles started turning white. The French leader held the shake for a few seconds more. Both men’s jaws seemed to clench.

Macron later said the handshake was “a moment of truth” — designed to show that he’s no pushover.

FRENCH-AMERICAN FRIENDSHIP EFFORTS

Trump was invited to Paris as Macron’s guest of honor, with a seat at the tribune as American troops opened the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees in July 2017.

Macron and Trump set aside their differences and enjoyed a gourmet meal with their wives at the Eiffel Tower, following a tour of one of Paris’s most famous sights, meetings and a joint press conference.

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Trump enjoyed the military parade on the Champs-Elysees Avenue so much that he said he wanted to stage a similar one in Washington.

ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS

The Yellow Vest movement started in October 2018 among provincial workers camped out at traffic circles to protest a hike in fuel taxes, sporting the high-visibility vests all French drivers must keep in their cars for emergencies. It quickly spread to people across political, regional, social and generational divides angry at economic injustice and the way Macron was running France.

At its height, a quarter of a million people marched around France.

For months, weekly protests across the country often degenerated into scattered violence. The number of demonstrators gradually decreased during spring 2019.

D-DAY 75th ANNIVERSARY

On June 6, 2019, world leaders gathered in France to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that helped liberate Europe from Nazi Germany.

Macron and Trump praised the soldiers, sailors and airmen who took part in the invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord, saying it was the turning point that ended Nazi tyranny and ensured peace for Europe.

Macron expressed France’s debt to the United States for freeing his country from the Nazis.

NOTRE DAME ON FIRE

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild Paris’ beloved Notre Dame Cathedral “even more beautifully” after a raging fire destroyed its spire and its roof in April 2019.

Authorities consider the fire an accident, possibly as a result of restoration work at the global architectural treasure that was almost 900 years old.

Macron promised the cathedral would be rebuilt by 2024, yet officials acknowledge the work won’t be fully completed by then. The blaze distributed vast amounts of toxic lead onto Notre Dame and the surrounding area, complicating the work.

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WITH PUTIN ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA

Macron invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to his summer residence at the Fort de Bregancon, on the French Riviera, in a rare honor meant to give a boost to peace talks with Ukraine during summer 2019.

The French president then envisioned long-term relations between Russia and the European Union based on confidence-building and security measures — on condition the conflict with Ukraine is settled.

The strategy didn’t work. Two and a half years, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine jeopardized the security of the European continent — while tightening the West’s unity.

Macron traveled to Moscow last month, meeting with Putin at the Kremlin to push for dialogue and avoid a war in Ukraine. In vain.

France currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union Council, giving Macron a key role in coordinating the response of the bloc’s 27 nations.

COVID-19 PANDEMIC HITS FRANCE

Macron adopted a martial tone, declaring the country “at war,” to order the French to stay at home in what would become the country’s first, strict lockdown to try to curb the spreading of the virus in March 2020.

France was one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe. The country reported over 138,000 deaths from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Last year, Macron’s government encouraged people to get the vaccine shots, and introduced a “pass” that excluded unvaccinated people from restaurants, sports arenas and other leisure venues.

About 93% of French adults are fully vaccinated.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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