The polls are closed and preliminary vote totals indicate that Emmanuel Macron has been reelected President by a margin of 16 points, a much closer result than he achieved in 2017 when he prevailed over Le Pen by 66% to 34%. www.lemonde.fr/…
Earlier, the Interior Minister estimated that the turnout at 5 PM was 63.2%, down from 65.3% in 2017. It appears that the turnout, which has been trending downward for years, may have reached its lowest level since 1969. www.interieur.gouv.fr/…
Abstentionists may have helped the extreme-right improve their score, although polls found a significant number of voters who were dissatisfied with both candidates for different reasons. www.commission-des-sondages.fr/…
Voters on the left tagged Macron as the “President of the Rich” ever since he backed a repeal of the country’s wealth tax at the start of his first term. Some of his other unpopular policies and proposals also hindered his campaign.
Le Pen was facing a long-standing feature of French politics known as the “front républicain,” an imperative for the rest of the electorate to form a blockade against the extreme-right and keep them out of power.
This election showed that the “barrage,” or blockade still exists, but it continues to fade with each election. Little by little, the inhibition against voting for Le Pen and her party is getting weaker.
Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founded the Front National party and first ran for President in 1974. After campaigning in every election, he was finally able to qualify for the runoff against Jacques Chirac in 2002. It was a shock at the time and he lost in a landslide, 82% to 18%.
Marine took over as party leader in 2011 and began a campaign to mainstream and normalize the party’s ideology, claiming to scrub it of its fascist roots. In 2017, she nearly doubled her father’s score from 2002. Eventually, after a series of scandals and off-year election setbacks, she strategized one more party makeover, changing its name to the Rassemblement National, and expelling her father for his antisemitic remarks.
With all of that, Le Pen’s efforts still weren’t enough to offset the voters who disagree with Macron but saw the need to make the blockade once again, to hold their noses and vote for him, anyway.
Still to come are the legislative elections in June, sometimes called “Round 3.” All 577 seats in the Assemblée Nationale will be contested. Like the President, the members are elected for five-year terms. Usually, but not always, the Parliamentary majority and the President belong to the same party. This year there may be an exception.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left-leaning France Insoumise party who finished third in Round 1, has a plan, He’s launching a campaign to form a union of the parties on the Left, including the Greens, to win a majority of the seats in the Assemblée and elect him Prime Minister.
It will be an uphill climb but, as the tweet below shows, he has the attention of the press and the media. Whether you love Mélenchon or hate him, he has game.
For right now, the focus is on Macron. In Paris, a crowd is gathering on the Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower where he is scheduled to speak.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.