Centrist Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidency with a landslide victory over the far-right, nationalist Marine Le Pen of Front National. Macron, 39, a former economy minister who ran as a “neither left nor right” independent, took 65.1% to Le Pen’s 34.9%, according to election projections released after polls closed at 8pm local time (2pm EDT).
Macron’s margin of victory was larger than the lead he had in the latest available polls of French voters. Many Macron voters were voting against the far-right xenophobic polices of Le Pen and her party - Front National.
As economist Mark Weisbrot wrote Friday:
"As France heads into the second and final round of its presidential election on Sunday, a number of observers have compared the choice between the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist neoliberal Emmanuel Macron with the Trump-Clinton contest of 2016. There are similarities: Le Pen, who is politely called xenophobic, like Trump represents an anti-immigrant, right-wing nationalism combined with some populist appeals. Macron is a former investment banker and economy minister under the current Socialist government who, like Hillary, is widely seen as too close to powerful financial interests.
But one significant difference is that if Hillary had won the US presidency in 2016, she would most likely have tried to win some net improvements in the living standards and economic security of the majority of the electorate — including working class and poor people — who voted for her. The same cannot be said for Macron in France. His public platform has been vague, but insofar as it has a discernible trend, it is in the same direction that the country has moved over most of the past decade. That has included large public pension cuts, labor law reform that has weakened the bargaining power of unions and made it easier for employers to dismiss workers (including the Macron Law, as it is called, of 2015), and spending cuts.
How does France, a country with an advanced welfare state that provides nearly free university tuition, universal health care, and free childcare, end up with less of a choice than what Americans faced last year? (And don’t get me wrong: I think it’s still an important choice to make, given the special dangers that Le Pen, like Trump, represents.)"
@Ali_Gharib 46% of American voters went for a candidate who was almost as fascist as Le Pen.
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) May 7, 2017
— Southern Muse (@MuseOfTheSouth) May 7, 2017
LePen got: 35%.
Trump approval rating: 35%.
Percent of people who don't believe in evolution: 36%. Nice to see there is a cap on stupidity. https://t.co/WiSFyMFkec
— #NotMyPresident (@nycjaneyvee) May 7, 2017
Two weeks ago, Trump said terrorist attack would upend French election in favor of Le Pen.
Today, France rejected that fear in a landslide.
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) May 7, 2017
— Wil Spillane (@2xUEss) May 7, 2017