Sunday, Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen for the position of President of France. The election had many similarities to the United States presidential race with the top three candidates being Le Pen (whose views mimic Donald Trump), the right-wing candidate vowing to halt immigration, leave the European Union, and return France to using the Franc as its currency, Jean-Luc Melenchon (comparable to Bernie Sanders), the left-wing candidate who wanted to place a 100 percent tax on anyone making over 400,000 euros a year and Macron as the more centrist candidate.
Unlike the US election, Macron was the candidate who was a political outsider and his presidential run was his first campaign for public office. Libertarians should view the President-elect’s victory as a great win for free markets and liberty in a global sense.
Firstly, En Marche!, the party founded by Macron, was started to fight the divide between the progressives and conservatives. The President-elect describes himself as economically and socially liberal (In France, liberal more closely relates to what Americans would call classically liberal), reminding Libertarians of Gary Johnson’s description of being socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
According to Business Insider, Macron is very pro-business and part of his task as former President Hollande’s Minister of Economy was to get France’s economy growing again. He passed legislation, called Loi Macron, to deregulate certain industries and loosening others to boost competition in an attempt to get the economy moving once again.
The bill was extremely unpopular among French conservatives and socialists and the Economist reported “A few Socialist deputies, who have abstained recently over the budget, have even threatened to vote against the Macron law, an act of outright rebellion.”
During his campaign, Macron promised to lower the corporate tax rate from 33 percent to 25 percent, exempt low-wage workers from welfare levies (effectively putting an extra month of pay on their paychecks), and while the 35 hour work week would remain (he has criticized this as hampering the abilities of businesses), the amount of real work hours would be negotiable between employees and employers.
Creating savings in public spending through making industries more efficient and cutting funding to local authorities were also a part of Macron’s platform. He also wants to shrink the government by reducing the number of lawmakers by a third in both houses, reduce provincial local authorities by a quarter and ban hiring family-members as assistants to lawmakers.
The man is not without his faults, as he is for a more interventionist policy in regards to Syria and wants increase government spending in other areas of the government.
Regardless, Libertarians should be on the lookout for a demonstration of the power of the free market and economic freedom from France in the future. Hopefully, Macron can become an ally in the fight for liberty.