Florent Parmentier, Doctor of Political Science, Assistant Director of the School of Public Affairs at Sciences Po-Paris
On Sunday May 7th, Emmanuel Macron won the second round of the Presidential election by a landslide, 66 to 34, against Marine Le Pen. A 39-year-old President, Macron, who was not a famous politician only three years ago, was able to create his own movement and win the most demanding election.
His victory is the result of many factors: his ability to mobilize people, create his own party and share a positive message. As a challenger, he was also lucky enough to take advantage of the difficulties of the favourite, François Fillon (Les Républicains – right-wing party) that no one expected to see defeated in the first round. After a strong performance in the first round – taking the first spot with 24% – Macron did not manage well the start of the campaign for the second round. His challenger, Marine Le Pen, proved very offensive by framing an opposition between “patriots” and “globalists”, the latter being the supporters of Mr. Macron. Marine Le Pen’s strategy in the presidential debate of May 3rd though was a failure. After spending 5 years to explain people that the National Front is now a ‘normal’ party (a process called ‘de-demonization’), she has assaulted Macron during the debate in a counterproductive way – showing aggressiveness and a lack of technical knowledge. Even the support of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan was not enough to create a dynamic in favour of Marine Le Pen. In the aftermath of this election, it seems that both movement, “En marche!” and National Front, will soon be rebranded. The new President will also dedicate itself to his priorities – education, reform of the labour market, economic modernization, security, democratic renewal and international relations. He will try to make European Union great again – as the EU has suffered from the Brexit and various nationalist movements scoring high in the national elections.
However, his next steps will face great challenges: who will be his Prime Minister – a man or a woman of confidence who will set the tone for the start of the mandate? And what will be the likely results of the parliamentary elections in June?
The former question is a matter of political speculation, and will be known next week – probably someone from the centre-right, with a pro-European background and a parliamentary experience. He will have to lead the government and avoid any faux-pas that might discourage voters, from left or right.
The latter question proves crucial, as without a clear majority in June (two rounds – 11th and 18th), Emmanuel Macron will have to manage a political “cohabitation” – a possibility that cannot be excluded at this point.
Photo: Christian Hartmann / Reuters