Today was the second round of the Presidential election in France. The first round was on April 23, which resulted in two main contenders: Emmanuel Macron, the centrist leader of the En Marche! party, and Marine Le Pen of the right-wing populist National Front party. This was a very important election for one reason: The fate of the European Union. During the election, Le Pen had advocated for France leaving the European Union, to the point of calling herself “Madame Frexit”. Macron, on the other hand, is staunchly pro-European Union. If Le Pen had won the Presidency, we would have seen a situation similar to that of Brexit (the British withdrawal from the European Union), but worse because it would have caused European Union officials to question the viability of the Union itself.
But there is another thing about Le Pen that should raise red flags: Her family and her party. Her party, the National Front party, was founded in 1972 by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. The elder Le Pen has a reputation that can be best described as the “French Donald Trump”. He has caused considerable controversy for several remarks claiming that the Holocaust did not occur (namely saying that the gas chambers were a “detail” of history). In addition, the elder Le Pen has been infamous for appealing to voters’ fears of (specifically Muslim) immigrants and terrorism during the 2002 election. In 2015, Marine expelled her father from the National Front party over these comments, and has since attempted to rebrand the NF as a more moderate, mainstream party by advocating for greater measures to curb immigration and a ban on religious headgear – be it the Muslim hijab or the Jewish kippah – in the name of militant secularism.
Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, is more of a centrist. He has favored a more tolerant French society towards immigrants, and has applauded the multicultural society of France. Unlike Le Pen, Macron was relatively obscure in the French political scene, serving as an adviser to outgoing President Francois Hollande. Not to mention, at the age of 39, he represented a break from the French political mainstream.
Based on these two options, the French people have made their choice. Emmanuel Macron has been elected the President of France. I, for one, applaud this as a turning point for international affairs. Apparently, the French did not want their version of Donald Trump or Brexit in their own borders. In rejecting this right-wing populist trend, France has joined the ranks of the Netherlands. Let us hope that Germany does the same.
God Bless the World,
The Centrist Voice