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Sigh of Relief: centrist Macron carries monumental election in France

Kheyal Roy-Meighoo and Max Tirouvanziam

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France’s politics don’t usually receive much attention in the United States. But the 2017 presidential gained coverage worldwide as countries because it’s outcome would decide the fate of the European Union.

In the French system, there are two rounds of voting. The first round narrows the race to the two candidates. On April 23, 2017, the vote was narrowed down to the conservative candidate for the National Front Marine Le Pen, and En Marche! centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.

National Front candidate Marine Le Pen lost the election with only 35% of the vote.

In the debate on Tuesday, May 3, Le Pen came out aggressively in a desperate push to deteriorate support for Macron. However, this was seen as a victory for the centrist, as he came off as more knowledgeable on issues and level-headed to manage the country.

On Sunday, May 7, the forces of the far right were held at bay in France, at least for five more years. Le Pen, garnered less than 35 percent of the vote nationwide as her opponent, 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron, became the youngest incoming French President in history.

French expats, who voted overwhelmingly for Macron, rejoiced at this victory. Sophomore Sebastian Allowitz, a dual nationality holder, echoed this feeling of relief.

“I was pleased because [Macron was the candidate] my family was supporting,” Allowitz said.

Allowitz noticed that the election “had a lot of parallels to the U.S. election.”

Le Pen’s foreign policy closely parallels Donald Trump’s policies. Le Pen stood on a nativist platform of restricting immigration and enforcing border police. In addition, she wanted to leave trade deals and the European Union, like the United Kingdom did this past June.

“[Le Pen] wanted to leave the EU and I don’t think that would’ve been good for the country, the rest of Europe and really the rest of the world,” Allowitz said. “I don’t think it would’ve been great [if Le Pen won, especially] concerning immigration.”

In his victory speech, delivered in front of the Louvre pyramid in Paris near the Seine River, Macron repeated throughout that “the challenge ahead is huge.” However he counterbalanced his statement with messages conveying unity and optimism for rebuilding Europe and electing a parliamentary majority in June.

“I will serve with humility, with strength, and on behalf of our slogan: liberty, equality, and brotherhood,” he said near the end of his 12 minute address. “I will serve you with loyalty to the trust you have placed in me, and with love.”

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons

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