In a clear and overwhelming victory, centrist Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s Presidential election in France. Macron received 66% of the vote compared to 34% for Le Pen.
Le Pen fared strongest in areas where blue collar workers had been hit hardest, as was the case for Donald Trump in the United States and the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. Those areas are primarily in the northeastern part of France, bordering the low countries, as well as the southern cities of Nice and Marseille. Macron was strong in and around Paris as well as the rural center of the country.
At 39 years old, Macron is the youngest leader of France since Napolean. His task is now to forge a political coalition out of his En Marche party that can win legislative elections in June. Although supportive of the European Union, Macron has advocated reforms of the sixty year old union that would make it more democratic, allow for more even affluence across its members, and better respond to terrorism and migration.
Speaking to the BBC earlier this month Macron said, “We have to face the situation, to listen to our people, and to listen to the fact that they are extremely angry today, impatient and the dysfunction of the European Union is no more sustainable.” Should German Chancellor Angela Merkel remain in power in Germany, he is likely to find a partner in some of those endeavors.
No one knows what would have happened had Le Pen won the election, but it may well have signaled an end to the European Union, at least in its current form. Although she lost badly, the 34% of people voting for her was far higher than the 17% that voted for her father in 2002. Her National Front party is likely to remain a player in French National Politics.