French Presidential Incumbent Triumphs as France Dodges Conservative Control

Tomas Curcio, Staff Writer

From Apr. 10-20, the 2022 French presidential election resulted in incumbent Emmanuel Macron’s victory over competitor Marine Le Pen. This victory allots Macron another five years of presidency after his original term.

This newest quinquennial contest directly mirrors the 2017 edition, which included the same competitors, but a major difference exists between both: an intense struggle. 

In 2017, Macron triumphed with a weighty 66.10% of the popular vote to earn his record as the youngest French President in history. However, in 2022, Macron dragged himself over the line with 58.5% of the popular vote to retain his controversial position.

While the margin does not have the same nail-biting effect that George Bush and Al Gore had in 2000, the margin shows a major consequence of the ensuing cultural wave over France.

Macron represents La Republique En Marche (LREM), a party known for its European sentimentalities, globalization interests and acts as a centrist organization, combining both left and right-wing wants to manifest a perfectly cooked steak, appeasing a neutral majority.

Le Pen represents the National Rally, a party known for straying from the preexisting LREM center. The National Rally acts as the far starboard of the French vessel, advocating for harsher punishments for crime, such as the death penalty, moving away from the European Union and limiting immigration, mostly of Muslims. 

The National Rally’s increased voter base ironically came at a time of expanded voter apathy, with only 72% of those eligible voting in the runoff — comical when compared to the United States’s 2020 record-high presidential election voter turnout of 66.8% of eligible voters — the lowest since 1969. This largely came due to disinterest in both candidates, showing a large untapped market, most likely of the leftist side.

Europe has seen this encroaching cultural conservative sentiment expand for some time now. Since 2003, current Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has held de facto rule of the country. In 2016, the Brexit referendum foreshadowed the Conservative Party’s victory in 2019 and Spain has seen increasing support from the right-wing Vox party.

These countries and their growing conservative sentiments come on the periphery of Russia, a similarly conservative country with European Union diplomats claiming Russia as often supporting these groups and these groups reciprocating those feelings. 

With the current situation of Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, the standings of certain countries as against or for Russia has become a serious issue in modern-day politics. Despite the current situation consisting of countries not making outright statements for or against Russia, as the situation develops countries have to take a stance, and these conservative parties may flip the tides of warfare in Eastern Europe.