En Marche! The French Presidential Elections

The final round of the French Presidential elections took place yesterday May 7. In what was always going to be a historic result, the people of France voted decisively in electing their president. Here we bring you all the results and reaction in this installment of #Election News.

The EU is breathing a collective sigh of relief. Emmanuel Macron has been elected as the next president of France – winning well above the absolute majority required in the final round of the french presidential elections. The 39-year-old En Marche candidate will become France’s youngest president and the first to be drawn from outside the two major parties since the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1958. Macron, the centrist former investment banker, defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round runoff vote.

Results at a glance: French Presidential elections

  • Emmanuel Macron won with 66% of the vote
  • Marine Le Pen won 34% of the vote
  • Voter turnout lowest in 40 years at 65%
  • 12 million abstentions
  • 4.2 million spoilt ballots

Macron addressed supporters outside the Louvre in Paris declaring “Tonight you won, France won. Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France.”

Le Pen also thanked her supporters, pledging to renew her National Front party in time for the parliamentary elections in June. The defeated Le Pen also wished Macron the best in confronting the “huge challenges facing him”.

A Vote for the European Union

One of the central issues of the bitterly fought campaign was the European Union. The defeat of anti-EU Le Pen is seen as a major victory for the embattled trading bloc. Especially in light of last year’s Brexit referendum which sent shock waves through Brussels.

Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, tweeted his support for Macron’s victory “Happy that the French chose a European future”. Likewise, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Macron’s triumph as a “victory for a strong and united Europe”.

Anti-EU voices across the continent correspondingly expressed their disappointment in yesterday’s result. Leading Brexit campaigner and former United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage remarked bluntly “Macron offers five more years of failure”.

What next for Macron?

The new French President will move into the Élysée to begin his five-year term next Sunday, May 14. There will be no honeymoon period for Macron as he is expected to announce his Prime Minister next Monday.

He will then turn his eye towards the upcoming parliamentary elections which will present a huge challenge. Macron’s En Marche party is barely a year old, and despite pledging to field candidates in all 577 constituencies, he faces an uphill battle to win a majority in the legislature. Although he scored a comprehensive victory yesterday, much of his majority can be attributed to establishment party voters turning to him to keep Le Pen out. Whether or not these same voters will be convinced to abandon the two major parties and vote for En Marche in the parliamentary elections remains to be seen.

Regardless of what happens in June, we’ll be here to bring you all the results and reaction in #Election News!