It’s still rather a cheerful vibe at the French ambassador’s residence in sunny Kensington this evening. The crowd here would have preferred the exit poll to show Macron and Fillon to go through, but they’ll take Macron versus Le Pen, especially with Macron in the lead. There were sharp intakes of breath when Le Pen popped up on screen in second place. But Macron being ahead is good news as far as these Londoners are concerned.
A huge number of French voters abroad turned out today – a good chunk of them in London, where people queued up outside the French Lycée in Kensington for up to three hours to cast their ballots. And French Londoners tend to be socially mobile, affluent types — not the sort of people who vote for Le Pen or Melenchon. The French here are fiercely opposed to Brexit, which they regard as pretty much as bad as Trump only worse for them, and therefore inclined to support Macron (if they lean left) or Fillon (if they lean right).
‘Of course I won’t comment on the candidates on the poll or on the election,’ said Ambassador Sylvie Bermann. But it’s fair to say her and her friends are pleased about the initial expectations that Macron will win. As people of Francois Hollande’s establishment, Macron is their candidate, for all his ‘outsider’ talk. And if that exit poll isn’t wrong, he’ll almost certainly be their president too.