This past weekend, France held its runoff elections to choose from the unlikeliest of candidates as the next French president. In the race between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, French voters chose Macron, who persuaded France that his centrist reforms would serve the nation better than Le Pen’s nationalist agenda. At the age of 39, he is the youngest man ever elected to the post.
While the first round of voting was extremely close between the top two candidates, the second round was a landslide. Macron earned over 60% of the vote. Le Pen conceded immediately after the polls closed. The election map shows that Le Pen only claimed two small districts in northern France.
Alissa Rubin, writing for the New York Times, notes how the breakdown of votes points to the difficulties that lie ahead for Macron. Le Pen received 38% of the vote, which is the highest share the French have ever given to her party, the National Front. This was also the worst voter turnout for the French since 1969, at just 74%. If Macron is going to gain serious, consolidated support for his reforms, he still has plenty of work to do.
This election served as a microcosm for the nationalist-globalist debate among Western-style democracies. Some even went so far as to frame the election as a parallel to last year’s Brexit vote. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage strongly supported Le Pen. In response to her defeat, Farage predicted that she would come back stronger in 2022 once Macron’s globalist policies take effect.
Macron’s platform is more EU-friendly, mainly in that he isn’t planning to leave the EU. Most of his proposed reforms are economic in nature, including:
- Make budget savings of €60 billion (which equals £51 billion, or $65 billion), so that France sticks to the EU’s deficit limit of 3% of GDP
- Invest €50 billion over five years for public projects, including environmental measures, apprenticeships, digital innovation, and public infrastructure
- Lower the corporate tax rate to 25%, down from 33.3%
He also promised to promote a more ethical life in politics, especially before France’s parliamentary elections in June.