News

Victory for Macron

In a big win, Emmanuel Macron is elected France’s next president

May 08, 2017
CHRISTOPHE MORIN—BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES

Emmanuel Macron was elected France’s next president on Sunday, May 7, 2017. The 39-year old is France’s youngest leader ever and has never held elected office. Macron, a banker, beat out opposing candidate Marine Le Pen with about 66% of the vote. Macron is also the first candidate in France to run and win as a centrist and without a political party.

Thousands of supporters poured into the Louvre Museum’s courtyard when polls closed at 8 p.m. on Sunday. The crowd chanted “Macron Président!” and waved flags after Macron’s win was officially announced. In an address to the nation from his office, Macron acknowledged people’s “rage, anxiety and doubt” pulsing through the country. “The renewal of public life starts tomorrow,” he said.

A Time for Change

Supporters arrived ahead of Macron's electoral win at The Louvre on May 7, 2017 in Paris, France.

JEFF J. MITCHELL—GETTY IMAGES
Supporters arrived ahead of Macron's electoral win at The Louvre on May 7, 2017 in Paris, France.

Macron’s victory is the first of its kind. It shatters France’s two-party political system of Socialists and conservatives. The system has ruled for the past 60 years. Almost a year ago, Macron founded En Marche or the “On the Move” movement as an alternative to those two parties. Young volunteers campaigned door-to-door throughout the country and grew the movement through Facebook and other social media outlets. Some compared it to similar movements in the U.S. “He did what Obama did in 2007,” said French political strategy expert Guillaume Liegey. “He built a movement outside of the party structure.”

Le Pen, a lawyer and politician, campaigned as a conservative candidate. She pushed to close France’s borders, limit immigration, and increase security. She wanted the country to vote on leaving the European Union.

During last week’s presidential debate, Le Pen appealed to millions of voters with a “France First” message, saying Macron was not thinking of the working poor. Although Macron ultimately won the election, 11 million people cast their vote for Le Pen. She received about 34 percent of the vote. Michael Roth, Germany’s deputy foreign minister, praised Macron’s win. However, he said he fears that if Macron fails to boost the country’s economy, Le Pen could be elected the country’s next president.

The Road Ahead

Following Sunday night’s win, Macron and outgoing French president Francois Hollande, right, attend a ceremony in Paris on May 8, 2017, marking the victory over Nazi Germany during WWII.

STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN—AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Following Sunday night’s win, Macron and outgoing French president Francois Hollande, right, attend a ceremony in Paris on May 8, 2017, marking the victory over Nazi Germany during WWII.

Macron was France’s Economy Minister. He was largely unknown to the French public but quickly won over voters with his youthful energy. “He’s our own J.F.K.,” said one supporter in April during a campaign rally.

Now, Macron is set to inherit leadership of a country with high unemployment rates, rising public debt, and serious terrorist threats. “My point is to convince the French people that a positive project and a progressive view is more adapted to our challenges,” he told TIME in March.

On Monday, Macron changed the name of his political movement to La Republique En Marche, or “Republic on the Move.” He continued to lay the foundation for his transition to power by appearing with outgoing president, Francois Hollande. The president-elect joined Hollande at a World War II remembrance ceremony marking the 72nd anniversary of Germany’s defeat. Sylvie Goulard, a French deputy to the European Parliament, also announced that Macron would make Berlin his first destination as president.

With no official party to back him, Macron’s next challenge will be to get a parliament majority support in next month’s elections. In the meantime, Hollande and the outgoing administration will likely resign from power sometime this week. Macron will be sworn into office at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on May 14.


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