Emanuel Macron, 39-year-old ex-banker and leader of En Marche!, has won France’s Presidential election, successfully beating his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen to become France’s 25th President. He obtained 65.5 per cent of the popular vote to Le Pen’s 34.5 per cent. A Sphinx reporter went along to the Guild’s French Election Results Night to ask students their thoughts.
Jan, a German Masters student said the result was the “first good political news since Trump won.” Jan felt the result was positive not just because the far-right Le Pen had been defeated, but because the “EU has a chance to reform.”
Matilda, a French international student said: “everyone saw this [Macron’s victory] coming.” Macron, a former Economy Minister left the Socialist Party to run as a centrist candidate, arguing he “was neither left or right,” but arguing that he was pro-liberal values and fervently pro-Europe. In his victory speech he promised to “defend France and Europe, he also promised to “unite” a divided France.
The Head of the Politics Department, Stuart Wilks-Heeg commented on the result saying that he was “surprised by the margin,” and that “he expected it to be closer.” Furthermore, he went on to talk about the challenges Macron faces, especially “filling the vacuum left by the [collapse] of the main parties, especially the socialists.” He went on further to say that En Marche! needs “an electoral foothold in the Assembly to govern effectively.” Finally, Wilks-Heeg explained that Macron needs to deal with the chronic youth unemployment currently at 25 per cent, stating that it was “one of the reasons why Le Pen got so many votes.”
In line with this sentiment, British student Dylan said he was “worried that Macron won’t adequately address the problems that created Le Pen.”
Eva, a French PhD student, remarked that the election exposed new fault lines in French politics, observing that it is “no longer left versus right, but pro versus anti-EU,” which is why she voted for Macron, despite preferring Benoît Hammon herself. Moreover, Eva commented on the collapse of the two major parties, but specifically the Socialists, saying that “people don’t know who represents them anymore.” This decline of the two major parties is thought to be one of the reasons for a massive increase in support for candidates like Melenchon, Le Pen and the winner, Macron.
However, a final French student, who asked to be kept anonymous, described Macron as “potentially just another Hollande”.
The Guild has previously held Election Results Nights for the 2015 General Election and the US Presidential Election last semester. It is not known if the Guild will host a similar event for Theresa May’s snap election this June.