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Macron Officially Takes Office, Says The World Needs A Strong France


After a rocky week in American politics dominated by fallout from President Trump's firing of his FBI director, we decided to kick off this hour by looking overseas at how presidential politics are playing out in some other capitals around the world. We'll head to Iran in a moment. That country's about to vote on a new president.

But we begin in France where, as of today, Emmanuel Macron is President Macron. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has been out and about in Paris watching his inauguration and speaking to the French about their new leader, the youngest by the way since Napoleon Bonaparte.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Emmanuel Macron walked up a red carpet at the Elysee presidential palace Sunday morning as a military guard played on. He was greeted by outgoing president Francois Hollande. The two shook hands warmly before disappearing together in a handover tete a tete where such secrets as the country's nuclear codes are passed from old president to new. The French watched it all unfold live on television. Shopkeeper Pascale Sauge says Macron's election is a big and important change for France.

PASCALE SAUGE: He's clever. He's funny. He's young, so it's very interesting to see how the old France will manage with that.

BEARDSLEY: Macron soundly beat far right leader Marine Le Pen in the runoff last week with 66 percent of the vote. He has taken the country by storm. Brand new to politics, Macron had no party apparatus behind him, but it didn't seem to matter. He marched to victory with the support of regular people who were tired of the entrenched political establishment.

Macron's next big challenge will be to win a majority in the French Parliament in legislative elections in June. Though his new party Republique En Marche or Republic on the Move doesn't have any seats yet, it does have hundreds of eager candidates ready to run. Retired nurse Christian Goulette says this in itself is amazing.

CHRISTIAN GOULETTE: (Through interpreter) I really believe in him because he is building his party with regular people to run for the Parliament, not professional politicians, and half of them are women. It's really great. It's a total renewal.

BEARDSLEY: Inside the Elysee Palace, Macron was presented with the Legion of Honor necklace, a massive gold chain and medal representing the French presidency. In his first address to the nation, Macron said the world needs a strong France.


EMMANUEL MACRON: (Through interpreter) Europe and the world more than ever need a France that is sure of its destiny, one that carries its values and the voice of liberty and knows how to invent the future with audacity.

BEARDSLEY: Macron said with the help of the French people, he would turn the economy around and restore French confidence. French power, he said, is not declining but about to be reborn. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.