Emmanuel Macron, who won France’s presidential elections on Sunday, may have seen off the competition in the race for the Elysee Palace but will face daunting challenges when he takes office.
The 39-year-old must unite a deeply-divided country, roll back unemployment and try to nudge a fractious EU along the path of reform -- but he first faces a battle to secure a governing majority in legislative elections due next month.
Macron, a pro-European centrist and former banker, takes over a divided country where nearly half of voters backed extremist candidates -- critical of the EU, globalisation and “elites” -- in the first round of the election.
The “two Frances” are divided geographically -- one urban, more affluent and open to reform; the other, concentrated in the northern rustbelt and in disadvantaged areas of the countryside. It was this latter France that voted for Macron’s far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen.
Macron knows that many voters backed him not out of conviction but simply to stop Le Pen taking power, and his support could evaporate at the parliamentary elections.