Emmanuel Macron has been elected the president of France, defeating Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who threatened to take France out of the European Union.
The centrist’s emphatic victory, which also smashed the dominance of France’s mainstream parties, will bring huge relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain’s vote to quit the EU and Donald Trump’s election as US president.
Five projections, issued within minutes of polling stations closing at 6am on Monday (NZT), showed Macron beating Le Pen by around 65 per cent to 35 – a gap wider than the 20 or so percentage points that pre-election surveys had pointed to.
This is a good outcome from France economically. While not as reformist as Fillon, Macron’s economic policies are miles better than the protectionist and socialist rhetoric of Le Pen.
Macron’s immediate challenge will be to secure a majority in next month’s parliamentary election for En Marche! (Onwards!), his political movement that is barely a year old, in order to implement his programme.
That is far less certain but not impossible. The last poll had EM projected to win 249 to 286 seats. The Republicans 200 – 210 and the Socialists just 28 to 43.
Shortly after the first projections were published, Le Pen, 48, said she had congratulated Macron. But she defiantly claimed the mantle of France’s main opposition in calling on “all patriots to join us” in constituting a “new political force”, which she said would be the main opposition to the new government.
Her deputy said this new force would not be called “National Front”.
This will be interesting. May her attempt to bury the last ties to her (repulsive) father.
When he moves into the Elysee Palace after his inauguration next weekend, Macron will become the eighth – and youngest – president of France’s Fifth Republic.
He plans to blend a big reduction in public spending and a relaxation of labour laws with greater investment in training.
I predict some major strikes!