Macron’s defeat in Paris sounds alarm for Europe

With the EU’s erstwhile firefighter, Angela Merkel, planning to step down as German chancellor, the baton was supposed to pass to Macron to uphold liberal democracy. But Merkel’s power on the world stage was underpinned by a political fortress at home, and the French leader looks anything but solid.

“You can’t make speeches about defending the international order when your popularity is at 20 percent and there are protesters in the street,” said Nicholas Dungan, a Paris-based senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “It’s very difficult to get your credibility back.”…

“His ambitions for a strong Europe had already taken a hit from events in Germany and elsewhere,” said Philippe Moreau Defarges, an adviser at the Paris-based French Institute for International Affairs. “But he emerges seriously weakened from the recent events. He’s just not appeared up to the level, and France’s image has taken a terrible blow.”

At home, his popularity has been sinking, hurt by the failure of his early unpopular changes to labor and tax law to revive the French economy.