econd espresso shot: Macron knows what needs to be done in France but is unlikely to succeed in doing it. To those who supported Le Pen you have to add the many who abstained, including leftwing voters who described this second round as a choice between cholera and the plague. The president-elect has no established party behind him, so it is totally unclear what majority will emerge from next month’s French parliamentary elections.
He is already being described as “Renzi 2.0”, a reference to the Italian would-be-reformist former premier Matteo Renzi. His super-ambitious target is to reduce public spending from 56% of GDP to just – wait for it – 52%. The obstacles to change in France are enormous, from powerful unions and a bloated public sector to farmers who make a habit of blocking roads with tractors. If Macron fails to reform France, in 2022 we may yet have a president Le Pen.
Third espresso shot: it’s great that Macron also wants to reform the EU, but that’s not in his gift. With Brexit talks already turning nasty, Britain has moved from being a major ally in European reform to a massive distraction from it. Italy, with higher public debt than France, a fragile banking sector and fractured politics, may produce the next eurozone crisis. The underlying causes of the refugee crisis have not been addressed. Hungary and Poland are governed by anti-liberal populists.