Emmanuel Macron has won the runoff election for the French presidency. His opponent, Marine Le Pen, earned double the votes her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, earned when he stunned the world by making it to the second round in the presidential run-off in 2002. Turnout was abysmally low, showing a lack of enthusiasm from French voters for either candidate. Will Macron, who has never held elected office before, be able to unite such a fractured and uninspired electorate? Whatever the outcome of Macron’s tenure, Le Pen has vowed to rise again with a transformed party. The Guardian’s Angelique Chrisafis writes in Paris:
Macron, who has never held elected office and was unknown until three years ago, is France’s youngest president. Next Sunday, he will take over a country under a state of emergency, still facing a major terrorism threat and struggling with a stagnant economy after decades of mass unemployment. France is divided after an election campaign in which anti-establishment anger saw the traditional left and right ruling parties ejected from the race in the first round for the first time since the period after the second world war.
François Bayrou, an ex-minister and Macron’s centrist ally, said: “He is the youngest head of state on the planet [which] sends an incredible message of hope. Macron is giving hope to people who had no hope. Hope that maybe we can do something, go beyond the [left-right] divide that no longer makes sense.”
Le Pen swiftly conceded defeat. She said she had won a “historic and massive” score that made her leader of “the biggest opposition force” in France and vowed to radically overhaul her Front National party. Her promise to “transform” the far-right movement left open the possibility that the party could be expanded and renamed in an attempt to boost its electoral chances. It was a major step in the political normalisation of her movement.
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