21 December 2017
France wins ‘ Country of the Year ‘
The Economist magazine has named France as country of the year, just pipping South Korea to the title. And the Economist says that most of the credit goes to Emmanuel Macron.
For the last few years the UK’s economically liberal The Economist magazine has been picking its “Country of the Year”.
Up until 2017, France never troubled these judges. But then along came Emmanuel Macron.
Perhaps its no surprise a pro-free trade, liberal, globalisation supporting magazine chose France in the year a pro-globalisation, economically liberal, progressive 39-year-old (40 on Thursday) became the president of a country after five years of near-stagnation under a Socialist leader.
But here’s why France beat South Korea and Argentina, according to The Economist:
‘ In 2017 France defied all expectations. Emmanuel Macron, a young ex-banker who had no backing from any of the traditional parties, won the presidency.
Then La République En Marche, Mr Macron’s brand-new party full of political novices, crushed the old guard to win most of the seats in the National Assembly.
This was not merely a stunning upset. It also gave hope to those who think that the old left-right divide is less important than the one between open and closed.
Mr Macron campaigned for a France that is open to people, goods and ideas from abroad, and to social change at home.
In six months he and his party have passed a series of sensible reforms, including an anti-corruption bill and a loosening of France’s rigid labour laws.
Critics mock Mr Macron’s grandiosity (calling his presidency “Jupiterian” was a bit much).
They carp that his reforms could have gone further, which is true. Perhaps they forget how, before he turned up, France did not look reformable —offering voters a choice between sclerosis and xenophobia.
The struggle between the open and closed visions of society may well be the most important political contest in the world right now. France confronted the drawbridge-raisers head on and beat them. For that, it is our country of the year. ‘
My students are clever
I recently asked a student where his homework was. He replied, “It’s still in my pencil.”