Emmanuel Macron to take office as French president

Macron, 39, beat his far-right rival Le Pen with a pro-EU centrist agenda and will end the Socialist Party’s rule.

Emmanuel Macron will be inaugurated as France’s youngest ever president on Sunday, facing daunting challenges to rejuvenate the economy and breathe new life into the beleaguered EU.

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, will take over from President Francois Hollande, the socialist whose five years in power were plagued by stubborn unemployment and attacks, in a ceremony at 08:00 GMT.

After ascending the red carpet at the Elysee Palace in central Paris, Macron and Hollande will have a private meeting in the president’s office where Macron will be given the codes to launch France’s nuclear weapons.

“There is no swearing of an oath of office, like in the United States,” said Al Jazeera’s David Chater, reporting from Paris.

Jacques Charles Gaffiot, a historian, told Al Jazeera: “What differs is that in France, the ceremony takes place in the Elysee Palace under the splendour of the republic, whereas in the United States, it’s the people’s jubilation – it’s a grand show that is organised.”

Hollande is delighted at the election of the former investment banker, who scored a clear victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on May 7.

The current president launched Macron’s political career, plucking him from the world of investment banking to be an adviser and then his economy minister.

“I am not handing over power to a political opponent. It’s far simpler,” Hollande said on Thursday.

Tight security

Security will be tight with about 1,500 police officers deployed near the presidential palace and the nearby Champs Elysees avenue and surrounding roads will be blocked off.

At the end of the ceremony, a 21-gun salute will ring out from the Invalides military hospital on the other side of the River Seine.

After a formal lunch, Macron – accompanied by his wife Brigitte – will visit Paris’s town hall, a traditional stop for any new French president in his “host” city.

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On Monday, Macron is expected to reveal the closely guarded name of his prime minister, before flying to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It is virtually a rite of passage for French leaders to make their first European trip to meet the leader of the other half of the so-called “motor” of the EU.

Pro-EU Macron wants to push for closer cooperation to help the bloc overcome the imminent departure of Britain, another of its most powerful members.

He intends to press for the creation of a parliament and budget for the eurozone.

Parliamentary elections

Merkel welcomed Macron’s decisive 32-point victory over Le Pen, saying he carried “the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe”.

In June, Macron faces what the French media are calling a “third round of the presidential election” when the country elects a new parliament in a two-round vote.

The new president needs an outright majority to be able to enact his ambitious reform agenda.

The year-old political movement “Republique en Marche” (Republic on the Move, REM), which he formed to launch his presidential bid, intends to field candidates in virtually every constituency in the country.

READ MORE: French voters react to Emmanuel Macron’s election win

It unveiled 428 of its 577 candidates this week, saying it wants to bring fresh faces into the National Assembly lower house of parliament.

Half of them have never held elected office, including a retired female bullfighter and a star mathematician, and half of them are women.

Macron met many of the candidates gathered at a Paris museum on Saturday and told them they had an “immense responsibility”.

“You are the new faces of French politics,” some of those present quoted him as saying.

Unpredictable election

Macron won one of the most unpredictable French elections in modern history marked by scandal, repeated surprises and a last-minute hacking attack on his campaign.

Just as campaigning ended, hundreds of thousands of emails and documents stolen from his campaign were dumped online, leading Macron to call it an attempt at “democratic destabilisation”.

READ MORE: What does Emmanuel Macron stand for?

US authorities have said they believe Russian hackers were behind the attack.

The election saw voters reject France’s two traditional political forces of left and right. Their candidates were eliminated in the first round.

Unpopular Hollande was the first to bow to the rebellious mood in December as he became the first sitting president not to seek re-election in the French fifth republic, founded in 1958.

What does France’s new president-elect have to offer? – Inside Story

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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