Learning that Emmanuel Macron won the election in France is disappointing for those on the European far right. Many no doubt hoped that Marine Le Pen would be one more in the vanguard of Western right-wing candidates assuming office and implementing their anti-immigrant policies. But with the resounding defeat Macron delivered to Le Pen, could he be turning the tide against the far right?
— Adam MS (@Muh_Sadam) May 7, 2017
French Election Results
As reported by the Associated Press, Macron won the election by a much handier margin than many people were expecting. In fact, following the unexpected election of Donald Trump in the United States and the successful vote for Brexit in the U.K., some hoped that Le Pen would pull out yet another surprise victory for the right. However, Emmanuel Macron received 65.5 percent of the vote in this runoff election, versus a relatively paltry 34.5 percent for Marine Le Pen.
Prior to the election, there was tremendous contention and anger in France regarding the presence of immigrants – predominantly Muslim immigrants – in the country. Over the last few years, a number of terrorist incidents throughout France have been attributed to Muslim extremists.
The Big Picture
As in the United States – where Donald Trump whipped up anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim fury among his backers and made it to the White House – many of the French people have become frustrated with their government. These people feel the French government no longer looks out for their interests – but instead focuses on the interests of what they consider dangerous foreign interlopers.
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) May 7, 2017
Of course, these concerns aren’t entirely related to terrorist acts of the past, or concerns about terrorism in the future. In France and throughout Europe, many people are extremely concerned that jobs and economic prosperity are being lost to foreign immigrants. Worse for them, the existence of the EU is allowing a free access across borders that they consider unacceptable.
How Macron Won
The election in France – despite the hopes of the far right – was not just about France itself. Le Pen positioned herself as a strong opponent to the EU, making clear her views that – like the U.K. – France should abandon its association with the EU and the euro.
As reported by the Associated Press, Emmanuel Macron is very much pro-EU and opposes any measures designed to remove France from what he views as a highly successful association. In the end, the people of France must have decided they agreed with him on this particular issue – even if they disagreed regarding the influx of immigrants into France.
— CNN International (@cnni) May 7, 2017
Macron also promised to significantly reduce government jobs, cut government spending by €50-€60 billion and to slash the unemployment rate to 7 percent or less. These bread and butter issues probably appealed to the electorate as well. Frequently, Le Pen seemed very much a one note candidate with her focus on immigrants and Muslims.
There’s no denying that the French people have been extremely worried about the increasing numbers of Muslims living inside France and the rise of Muslim extremism – as well as related extremist terrorist acts. This is one of the reasons why a number of laws have been instituted across the country aimed at reducing the influence that Muslims have on French society.
For instance, one controversial measure introduced in 2010 by the French senate was a ban on Muslim headscarves. Whereas Muslims see these head coverings as a central part of their religion and their culture, France – or more specifically the French government – sees them as both an intrusion of an alien and highly religious culture in secular France and a possible security risk. But just because Macron won the election in France today doesn’t mean that this ban is going away anytime soon.
[Featured Image by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images]