The second run of the French presidential election took place on Sunday, May 7, with 39 year-old Emmanuel Macron elected as the next president of France. Macron defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front Party. Macron has never held elected office and will become the youngest president in the 59 years of France’s fifth Republic. His five year term begins May 14.
In order to become president of France, a candidate must earn over 50 percent of the total vote. According to Kantar, Macron superseded that rate with 65.7 percent to Le Pen’s 34.3 percent. The ex-banker ran as a political outsider who had a slim chance of winning. Le Pen also ran as an outsider and although she lost the election, it was a historic night for her party who has accelerated in popularity over the years.
Voters backed Macron’s call for centrist-change while rejecting Le Pen’s hard right political stances. According to the New York Times, Le Pen failed to prove her party had changed from its history of anti-Semitism and racism. Many votes given to Macron were in direct rejection of Le Pen. The election swept aside all the mainstream political parties of France and replaced them with Independents and the National Front. The Socialist Party was the dominant left party with the Republicans dominant on the right side.
The election appeared in the limelight often as it highlighted many of the border tensions rippling through Western democracies—including the U.S. A wave of populist anger spreading throughout Western countries has seemed to have halted in France, for now. Macron was seen as an outsider, and a way to escape the crumbling Socialist party.
In Le Pen’s concession speech, she stated the new divide would be between the patriots and the people who support globalization. Le Pen also pinned Macron as a political insider for his time spent as economy minister under the Socialist Party. Macron’s main appeal came from his centrist policies, which included methods from both left and right beliefs.