French President-elect Emmanuel Macron is preparing the groundwork for his transition to power, with plans for a visit to Germany, a name change for his political movement and an appearance on Monday with the man whose job he assumes.
Mr Macron defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s presidential vote, and now must pull together a majority for his year-old political movement by mid-June legislative elections. His party, En Marche! (Forward!) is tweaking its name as it prepares a list of candidates. Mr Macron has promised that half of those candidates will be new to elected politics, as he was before Sunday.
The far-right National Front party is also gearing up for a name change, if not a makeover of its ideas, after Marine Le Pen’s decisive loss. In interviews on Monday her campaign director David Rachline said the party founded by her father would get a new name as bait to pull in a broader spectrum of supporters in France. Mr Macron won the presidency with 66% of votes cast for a candidate.
But a high number of blank or spoiled votes and an unusually low turnout are signs of an electorate dissatisfied with its choices. Mr Rachline said Ms Le Pen will lead the opposition to Mr Macron. The incoming president will appear on Monday alongside current President Francois Hollande in commemoration of the end of the Second World War.
Monday, a national holiday, marks the day of the formal German defeat. It also marks decades of peace in western Europe, something Mr Macron made a cornerstone of his campaign against Le Pen’s brand of populism.
Ms Le Pen called for France to leave the European Union and drop the euro currency in favour of the franc.
Sylvie Goulard, a French deputy to the European Parliament, said Mr Macron would make Berlin his first official visit, with perhaps a stop to see French troops stationed abroad as well.
Michael Roth, Germany’s deputy foreign minister, applauded Mr Macron’s win but said the result was marred by the fact that 11 million people in France voted for Ms Le Pen. “It mustn’t become normal that right-wing extremists and populists achieve such strong results,” said Roth, whose portfolio includes relations with France.
He suggested relaxing European Union rules on state spending to allow France to boost economic growth.
“If Macron fails then the next president will be Marine Le Pen and we need to prevent this at all cost,” he added.