French President Emmanuel Macron has succeeded in securing re-election, despite the surge of radical ideologies, characterizing the last five years in office with violent protests and a succession of Covid lockdowns and curfews.
President Macron is the first president in 20 years to secure re-election for a second term, since Jacques Chirac, relying on the uncertain coalition of earnest supporters and reluctant strategic voters perseverant to inhibit Le Pen election. Le Pen had continuously urged the electorate to choose between “Macron and France”. However, it seems that the French opted to choose between Le Pen and the Republic.
The stakes of last Sunday’s election couldn’t be higher, as a victory for the Le Pen’s Far-Right would have sent shockwaves around the European Union at a time of heightened uncertainty and instability. While Le Pen made various statements that she does not intend to withdraw from the EU, as a founding member, Macron stressed that Le Pen’s proposed policies would inevitably lead to France leaving the 27-nation bloc. In fact, various European leaders alongside Macron perceived this election as a referendum against the EU, with many of them commenting that Macron’s victory is a victory for Europe.
“Splendid news for all of Europe” and a boost to the EU “being a protagonist in the greatest challenges of our times, starting with the war in Ukraine” – Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi
“Democracy wins, Europe wins” – Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez
Despite this favorable result for France and the whole of Europe, the Far-Right still managed to obtain the highest percentage vote ever, even though the rate of vote abstentions was the highest in half a century. In fact, the election was characterized with an “ocean of abstentions”, proving that the French electorate is not convinced by either Macron nor Le Pen. This dissatisfaction was proven with the Far-Left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon securing almost 22% of votes in the first election round, establishing him as a powerful alternative to Macron’s centrist ideologies. With his takeover of mainstream politics, Macron has left space only for radical forces, leaving the French arm-twisted into choosing the lesser of two evils. While Macron has disputed on multiple occasions that a “republican front” of anti-Le Pen voters was crucial for his 2017 victory, asserting that voters have chosen him and his propositions, this time around he seems to acknowledge that voters showed their support towards him in efforts of holding off Le Pen.
In his victory speech, Macron addresses voters who supported the Far-Right;
“We will have to be benevolent and respectful because our country is riddled with so many doubts, so many divisions. The anger and disagreements that drove them to back [the far right] must be answered. It will be my responsibility and that of the people who govern with me.”