In a dramatic rematch of the 2017 election, French citizens have chosen to re-elect Emmanuel Macron as the nation’s President. Macron won the election with over 58% of the vote, defeating the far-right Marine Le Pen, according to exit polls.
The results were announced live on French television as polls closed across the country. The result marked the end of a contentious campaign between President Macron and MP Marine LePen. Macron, who also handily defeated LePen in 2017, has since been plagued by the lingering effects of the pandemic as well as an economic downturn. Critics have labeled him “the president of the rich” for his out-of-touch approach.
Contentious campaign shows clear divides among French people
Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally party, has long pushed for controversial policies. Her critics, including Macron, have labeled her view as intolerant and discriminatory. Le Pen has attempted to rebrand herself since the previous election, but still advocates for anti-immigrant and anti-muslim laws.
Le Pen, for instance, has pledged to outlaw Muslim women from wearing head scarves in public if elected. She has also called for the deportation of Muslim foreign nationals in France who refuse to sign a secular pledge.
Allison Sargent, a reporter with France 24 News, spoke to a Le Pen supporter on Sunday. The supporter was wearing both a Le Pen button on his lapel, as well as a button from the US Republican party.
“He saw a lot of parallels between Marine Le Pen and the Republican Party of Donald Trump,” said Sargent.
Macron, on the other hand, has seen his meteoric rise to the presidency decline. The young president rose to power after launching his own political party five years ago.
He has since fallen out of favor with many French voters for appearing condescending and aristocratic.
Macron has faced immense pushback for his stern COVID lockdowns, vaccination mandates and tax policies. In 2018, massive and sometimes violent “yellow vest” protests overtook Paris. French citizens wearing yellow vests protested against Macron’s proposed tax on fuel.
Record number of voters stay home as Macron wins re-election
More French voters sat this Presidential election out than any other in the nation’s history. Initial estimates from IPSOS showed more than 28% of French voters abstained from casting their ballot. Before the election results, young student voters announced plans to protest, regardless of the winner. They planned to rally against the rise of fascism, the privatization of universities and the lack of action against climate change.
France will now move into legislative elections in mid-June. Progressive parties who failed to have a candidate advance to the final round of voting, are reportedly organizing to gain seats.
The French presidency is considered one of the presidencies in the western world. Macron will serve as president for another five years. He is only the fourth president to be re-elected to a second term in the history of the French Republic.