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All hail Macron, but the real story of the election is the great disgruntlement in French politics

7 May 2017

7:03 PM

7 May 2017

7:03 PM

Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential election. He is projected to have won by just over 65pc, pretty much the exact majority the polls have suggested all week. So it’s no populist surprises tonight, and chapeau to France pollsters.


Everybody thinks the French are revolutionary, but actually the Fifth Republic is constitutionally and temperamentally conservative. Macron has won because he is the less immediately dangerous choice. He’s a europhile centrist who says all the things global statesmen are meant to say. He’s a neophyte but he’s also a typical post Cold War politician in the Tony Blair mould.

The real story of the French election is not Macron. It is the great disgruntlement in French politics. The major parties — the Republicans and the Socialists — were knocked out two weeks ago. And for all the hype and youthful buzz around Macron’s en Marche movement, turnout for the second round is at 65pc, the lowest in French presidential since 1981, and 8.8pc of ballots have been marked blank or void, according to the first exit poll reports. A large percentage of the French vote is therefore either apathetic — on s’en fiche — or actually disgusted by the choice of Macron or Le Pen.

Macron deserves much credit for his audacity, his skill and daring. His was a far more disciplined and inventive campaign than either the Remain or the Clinton campaigns which lost to anger-eating politics. He was aggressive in defence of his liberal worldview, and his values, and it worked. But there will still be riots in Paris and elsewhere tonight, though they won’t be as bad as if Le Pen had won. Lots of French people on left and right have said non to the lot of them. France is not filled with Obama-like hope tonight.


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