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When Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France last year, he was presented as a kind of European savior, a wunderkind who had burst onto the French political scene just in the nick of time.This focus on Macron's record so far threatens to overshadow his crucial message about the future of European democracy.Macron won the French presidency not by appropriating veiled nationalist-populist messages, as Mark Rutte did to hold on to power in the Netherlands, but by championing a positive and robust pro-European platform. With his ambitious calls for European unity and dogged support of liberal democracy, Macron inspired hope that the wave of anti-European populism had crested and that real progress was on the horizon.Clearly, Macron's victory did not mark the beginning of a new era of European politics so much as the beginning of yet another chapter in the ongoing struggle for the future of Europe.Even Macron's supporters fail adequately to defend that message, instead getting caught up in the practical challenges ahead.To reform the EU, Macron will need German backing, which may not be in the offing, given the apparent turn by Merkel's coalition away from deeper European integration.
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