After the UK barely voted for the Brexit and the United States elected Donald Trump with a minority of the popular vote, France’s potential to elect a far-right candidate feared many. But after two rounds of voting, centrist Emmanuel Macron won the French election.
Macron was known as the “French Bernie,” despite his position as a centrist. While he was the Minister for the Economy and Finance of France, he has little political experience and was the youngest of the 11 candidates. Previously a member of the large left-wing Parti Socialiste, or Socialist Party, he founded La République En Marche ! before running for president.
Marine Le Pen, on the other hand, instilled fear into many people with her anti-Muslim rhetoric and her attempts to be like other conservative leaders. She supported Donald Trump’s election and called for a “Frexit” — France’s exit from the European Union — claiming that the country needed its own currency and border control.
More chilling, however, was the fact that her father, the founder of her political party Front National, or National Front, was extremely discriminatory and anti-Semitic. Le Pen attempted to soften the image of the National Front by banning her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen from the party.
Lauren Ortiz (’17), a French student, has been following the election closely. “I support Macron and Mélenchon, but I prefer Macron.” She also voiced her dislike of Le Pen.
France holds two round elections, with a runoff election two weeks after the first one if no candidate wins an absolute majority.
The first round took place on April 23rd. Macron and Le Pen won 24% and 21.3% of the vote, respectively. François Fillon, candidate for the conservative Les Republicans, won 20% and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, another left-wing candidate from the newly-founded La France Insoumise — Unsubmissive France — won 19.5%. If Benoît Hamon of the Socialist Party had dropped out of the race, it would have been likely that the 6.4% of people who voted for him would have made the runoff between Macron and Mélenchon, two left-wing candidates.
The final election was held on May 7. All candidates except one urged the public to support Macron, who won 66% of the vote, making Le Pen the candidate with the second-worst loss — only beating her father. Of the 102 departments of France, Le Pen only won two: Aisne and Pas-de-Calais.