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Photo by Lorie Shaul

Quick Take: What France's Presidential Election Means

May 9, 2017 2 minute Read by Matthew Rooney
Matthew Rooney, director of the George W. Bush Institute’s Economic Growth Initiative, gives his overview of the election of Emmanuel Macron as France’s new president, focusing on what the election means in terms of the heated international debate over protectionism versus liberalizing trading relationships.

It is easy to read too much into election outcomes, and especially tempting in the case of France’s presidential election. Nonetheless, given the two candidates and the lopsided nature of the result, it seems clear that French voters rejected a nativist-isolationist-protectionist course for their nation in favor of an Europeanist-globalist approach that is committed to ensuring that the open economy model promotes and sustains a strong middle class.  

Emmanuel Macron now has five years to prove that his approach works.  It is perhaps ironic that France is cast as the leading defender of an open global economy, though – just as only Richard Nixon could have gone to China and only Bill Clinton could have reformed welfare – a French approach to globalization will almost certainly be immune to populist criticism, whether from the left or the right. 

Mr. Macron’s impact on Europe may turn out to be greater due to what won’t happen while he is in office:  France will not withdraw from the Euro or from NATO’s military command, and there will not be a move to pull France out of the European Union.  

Still, the forces pulling the EU apart are powerful.  If Mr. Macron is to have an affirmative impact on strengthening the European project, he will need to work closely with his German counterpart to ensure that the less prosperous parts of Europe see benefits.

 


Author

Matthew Rooney
Matthew Rooney

Matt Rooney joined the Bush Center in June 2015 from a career as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.  At postings in Washington and abroad, Matt focused on advocating market-driven solutions to economic policy challenges in both industrialized and developing countries, and on protecting the interests of U.S. companies abroad. 

In Washington, Matt was on loan to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to create a high-level private sector advisory body for the Summits of the Americas, working closely with the U.S. private sector and with companies and business associations from throughout the Americas to negotiate an agenda to promote economic integration in the region for presentation to the leaders of the Americas.  Previously, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary responsible for relations with Canada and Mexico and for regional economic policy.   Prior to this, as Director of the Office of Economic Policy, he led interagency and international negotiations in 2008 that produced the Secretary’s Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative, designed to engage with our Free Trade Agreement partners on strategies for ensuring that the benefits of globalization are broadly shared in our societies.

Abroad, Matt was Consul General in Munich, a Consulate General providing a full range of Consular and export promotion services, supporting a permanent presence of 30,000 U.S. forces in two major base complexes, and performing political and economic analysis in support of U.S. diplomatic objectives in Germany. As Counselor for Economic and Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador, he laid the groundwork for free trade negotiations between the United States and the five countries of Central America, and promoted market-based reforms for electrical power.  Prior to this, Matt served in various posts in Germany, Gabon and Côte d’Ivoire. 

Matt studied Economics, German and French at the University of Texas at Austin and received his Master’s Degree in International Management at the University of Texas at Dallas.  With his wife Dianna, Matt has two young adult sons.

Full Bio