Emmanuel Macron is set to celebrate victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election, initial results suggest. While the final results have yet to be officially verified, early projections suggest that Macron bested his opponent easily with over 65 percent of the vote, which aligns with pre-election opinion polling released by French surveyors Elabe on Friday after a televised debate between the two candidates. The 39-year-old Macron will be France’s youngest president.
(Update: Current results, with 100% of communes reporting, show Macron with 66.1 percent of the vote, as reported by the NY Times.)
This election has been the subject of much speculation and was seen as somewhat of a mirror of the 2016 US Presidential Election, pitting far-right populist Le Pen of the National Front Party against the Centrist and former investment banker Macron. The French results, however, are starkly contrasting with the results of the US Election, with voters overwhelmingly choosing the banker over the populist.
Le Pen has called to congratulate Macron on his win, conceding her defeat. She has sworn to her supporters that she will remain true to the values of the National Front and continue to push her agenda in the European Parliament, where she has held a seat since 2009, but that the National Front is in need of a complete overhaul. Current French President François Hollande has also publicly congratulated his successor, who was Hollande’s Minister of Economy and Finance until August 2016.
J’ai appelé @EmmanuelMacron pour le féliciter chaleureusement pour son élection. Je lui ai exprimé tous mes vœux de réussite pour notre pays
— François Hollande (@fhollande) May 7, 2017
Le Pen, who took over the National Front after she removed her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, as leader of the party, ran on a “France First” platform of Anti-Immigration and taking a hard line on Islamic terrorism. Her stance on those issues combined with French public opinion of her father and the party he once helped to found likely had some effect on her polling number. The elder Le Pen was prosecuted for a number of statements constituting Holocaust Denial, which is illegal in France under the Gayssot Act of 1990.
Macron, on the other hand, is pro-EU, and favors strengthening borders but believes that French National Security policies have unfairly targeted Muslims. In another similarity between the French and US Presidential Election, a file dump of hacked Macron emails was recently released, ostensibly in the hopes of influencing the Franch election for Le Pen. That attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, as seen by the large margin of victory in the election results that exit polling is showing.
Macron has already been congratulated by British Prime Minister Theresa May. “The Prime Minister warmly congratulates President-elect Macron on his election success,” said a Downing Street spokesperson, publicly relaying May’s congratulatory message. “France is one of our closest allies and we look forward to working with the new President on a wide range of shared priorities.”
Macron has given a short victory speech, acknowledging the “immense responsibility” that the French people have bestowed upon him. Stressing the importance of national unity, Macron also noted the concerns of the electorate that supported Le Pen who garnered an estimated 11 million votes, though that number may vary as the official results are verified.
Though she will not be France’s next president, Marine Le Pen sees this election as a victory for the National Front. Before this election, her father was the only National Front candidate to ever make it to the second round of voting, and her projected vote count is double the number the former National Front candidate received in 2002.
US President Donald Trump, while withholding an official endorsement, previously stated that Le Pen was the better of the two candidates, saying that she was “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” However, Trump did offer his congratulations to Macron on his election victory via Twitter, saying that he looks forward to working with Macron in the future.
Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France. I look very much forward to working with him!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2017
Former US President Barack Obama publicly showed support for Macron in a video where he spoke directly to the French people, urging them to vote for the former banker.
“I have admired the campaign that Emmanuel Macron has run,” Obama stated in a video shared by Macron on social media. “He has stood up for liberal values, he put forward a vision for the important role that France plays in Europe and around the world. And he is committed to a better future for the French people. He appeals to people’s hopes and not their fears.”
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 4, 2017
Though he has held appointed state positions, Emmanuel Macron has never held an elected office, which makes his victory a little more surprising. Ipsos France pollster and analyst Mathieu Gallard notes that around 43 percent of Macron’s votes were cast in opposition to Le Pen and not necessarily in support of Macron himself. Roughly 39 percent of voters polled said that they would be opposed to Macron holding an absolute majority in the next parliamentary session after those elections are held next month, suggesting that fewer people support his agenda than actually voted for him. This seems to be in line with the results of the first round of the election, where far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melechon received 19.6 percent of the vote and Republican François Fillon received 20 percent, both narrowly missing the 21.3 percent which sent Le Pen to the second round.
In the eyes of many political analysts, numbers like these lend support to the theory that an anti-establishment sentiment is sweeping across the globe. However, even though Macron recently declared Independent status and started his new French political party, En Marche!, in 2016, many still see him as a symbol of globalism and corporate control in politics. In any case, the results of Emmanuel Macron’s overwhelming victory in today’s French election indisputably shows the French people’s rejection of the far-right political agenda espoused by Marine Le Pen and the National Front.
[Featured Image by Bob Edme/AP Images]