The second round in the French presidential elections yesterday resulted as predicted in the opinion polls in a landslide victory for Emmanuel Macron against his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen, by a score of roughly 66 % against 34 %. The turnout in the elections was the lowest in 40 years with almost half of young people and a majority of 65+ voting for Le Pen.
Macron’s victory on 7 May was received by a sigh of relief of most political leaders in Europe and around the world who had feared that the populist wave in the Brexit vote and in the US presidential election would also strike in France and again prove that opinion polls cannot be trusted.
The Belgian prime-minister Charles Michel was almost the first to congratulate Macron after the ballots closed and tweeted that he looked forward to “work together for a European restart”. The spokesperson of German chancellor Angela Merkel tweeted that Macron’s “victory was a victory for a strong united Europe and for German – French friendship”.
European Council President Donald Tusk congratulated Macron and the French people “who had chosen Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and said no to the tyranny of fake news”. British prime-minister Theresa May who is facing tough negotiations on Brexit tweeted that she looks forward to working with Macron “on a wide range of shared priorities.”
The Israeli prime-minister Benjamin Netanyahu also congratulated Macron and looks forward to working with him to confront “the common challenges and seize the common opportunities facing our two democracies”. Notwithstanding the different circumstance, his statement mentions that “one of the greatest threats facing the world today is radical Islamic terror which has struck Paris, Jerusalem and so many other cities around the world.”
A victory for Le Pen with her nationalist anti-EU, anti-euro, anti-globalization and anti-immigration agenda would immediately have been felt in the financial markets and would have threatened the future of the European Union.
However, the challenges facing Macron – the youngest president ever in France’s history – are many and difficult. He will have to reform the country’s economy, stimulate economic growth, create new jobs, overcome the internal divide and tackle the threat of terrorism.
For this he will need the support of the French parliament where his newly formed party has no seats. Elections to the national assembly will take place already in June.
Le Pen who increased her share of voters from the first round will surely bide her time and wait for next presidential elections in France hoping that Macron will fail in his task.
The Brussels Times