Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister, is celebrating after winning the French presidential election on a centrist independent platform. According to Politico, Macron defeated populist candidate Marine Le Pen by a 66 percent to 34 percent margin.
While Macron is likely enthusiastic after his victory, many of the French citizens are also equally elated by the results of the election.
Macron’s opposition, Le Pen, has a far-right political stance, and was unofficially endorsed by U.S. President Donald Trump. According to The Washington Post, Trump said that the Paris police shooting in April would have a “big effect” on the French presidential race and would “probably help” Le Pen during the election. You know—one of Trump’s famous predictions.
During the election, Le Pen threatened to exit the European Union if she won, similar to Brexit in Britain. Thankfully, Macron’s triumph brings hope that France will remain in the EU. But leaving the EU wasn’t the most extreme promise Le Pen made during her campaign trail. According to Business Insider, she tapped into France's xenophobia by promising to deport any migrant who has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor (sound familiar?).
Now that he's won, Macron hopes to create solidarity in a divided France. According to The New York Times, Macron told the French people after his election, “I understand the divisions of our country that have led some to vote for extremists. I understand the anger, the anxiety, the doubts that a great part among us have also expressed.” Naturally, polarizing candidates would create tension within a country.
Although Macron’s win and his promise for unity are reassuring, Condoleezza Rice, a former secretary of State, told USA Today’s Capital Download that the world still needs to be cautious of candidates with extreme views.
“I really do believe that these populists are changing the character of the politics just by being there, so even mainstream candidates are having to respond to their agenda,” Rice says. Rice continued, “The rise of nativism is having an impact on the politics, even if the candidates aren’t winning.” So even if a more moderate candidate beats a far-leaning candidate in a political election, politics could still be impacted by the extreme candidate’s platform.
Rice’s explanation makes complete sense. Even if a candidate, like Le Pen, loses a political race, she has still gathered a significant amount of followers. Because of this, Le Pen’s campaign has made it seem socially acceptable for French citizens to socially ostracize immigrants. Now is Macron’s time to realign a country that has been divided by this election.