The 2017 French presidential election came to a head yesterday with 39-year old Emmanuel Macron emerging the winner by a decisive margin. The independent centrist Macron garnered 60.3 percent of the votes while his rival; Marine Le Pen got 39.7 percent.
The far-right La Pen who had since congratulated the president elect, expressed appreciation to her supporters and promised to “lead the fight” in the France’s parliamentary elections next month.
Le Pen also pledged a “profound reform” of her Front National party to create ‘a new political force’.
Although it was not clear what she meant by this, rumours are rife that the defeated presidential candidate may be planning to disband the party and build a new movement, aiming to organise “a major political reorganisation around the divide between patriots and globalists”:
With his victory, Macron becomes France’s youngest president and has pulled off a remarkable feat. He has never held elected office, and just over a year ago his political movement En Marche did not even exist.
His rival, the far right leader Le Pen, has brought her France-first, anti-EU Front National party a long way. According to information from French state TV and radio monitored by The Guardian, the turnout projection of 74 percent is the lowest in the second round of a French presidential election since 1969.
“This is not unexpected in a contest as unique as that between the independent centrist Macron and far-right Le Pen, neither of whom have the formal backing of a mainstream political group, say analysts.
The outcome matters not just because France is the world’s sixth biggest economy and a key member of the EU, Nato and the UN Security Council, but also because the two candidates’ worldviews could not be more different.
Pollsters have predicted since the first round on April 23 that Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, former banker and economy minister, would win comfortably, possibly by more than 20 percentage points, and at 39 become France’s youngest ever leader.
He is economically liberal, socially progressive, globally minded and – on the whole – optimistic. Le Pen, of the far-right Front National, is a nation-first protectionist who wants to close France’s borders and abandon the euro and EU.
Macron wants to ease labour laws, boost education in deprived areas, extend welfare protection to the self-employed and re-energise the EU while Le Pen announced plans to cut immigration to 10,000 a year, punish outsourcing by multinationals, and eradicate Islamism.
The campaign has been extraordinary in many ways: for the first time, a sitting first-term president has not sought re-election, and the two mainstream centre right and centre left parties that have run France since the 1950s are not represented in the runoff.
It has been marked by the crashing out of pre-race favourites, a terror attack on the eve of the first round, and – less than 48 hours before the elction, a massive online data dump of documents hacked from Macron’s En Marche! Movement.
An unhappy and deeply fractured France – its east and its north divided from its from west; its graduates from its school-leavers; its thriving, cosmopolitan cities from its left-behind small towns and villages has opted for 39-year old Macron as its new president-elect.
Meanwhile, the United Kindgom Prime Minister, Theresa May has congratulated President-elect Macron on his election success.
The Prime Minister in a statement said, “France is one of our closest allies and we look forward to working with the new President on a wide range of shared priorities.