At 8 pm on Sunday 7 May 2017, results of the second round of the French presidential elections were announced on a huge screen at the Rotondes in Bonnevoie.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
All eyes were on France during an election resulting watching event held at the Rotondes in Bonnevoie on Sunday evening.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
Emmanuel Macron will be the next French president, having won 32% of the total electorate.
Turnout was only 75%, which is very low for French presidential elections.
33.9% (close to 10,600,000) voted for Marine Le Pen--this means that 68.1% of the French electorate did not vote for Macron on 8 May 2017.
The abstention rate was 25.3% (12 million) and 8.9% (or around 4 million) were blank or spoiled ballots. That means about one in three French citizens did not endorse a candidate at all, according to the latest Ipsos France estimations.
“Although this trend isn’t all that novel in French politics, where a run-off is often about the rejection of one of the two candidates, it has increased compared to recent elections. A third of Sarkozy’s 2007 vote was cast against his Socialist opponent, and half of Hollande’s support five years later was a rejection of Sarkozy, according to the same polling company.”
In 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen was running against Jacques Chirac in the second round, he only got around 18%--his daughter almost doubled that score.
It is therefore understandable that Macron, in his acceptance speech, was conciliatory rather than triumphant, and addressed Le Pen’s voters by saying he understands their fears and concerns.
The differences in programmes have been covered extensively elsewhere (here, here and here). Who voted for Macron, and what lies ahead for him--will he be able to govern effectively? What are the implications for a less than expected score for the FN?
In terms of age groups, Macron does best with seniors (78% for 70+ years of age; 70% for 60+), and with young people (64% for 18-24 years).
Macron scored well with high level professionals (82% among managers), retired people (74%), intermediate professions (67%) and employees (54%). He did not score a majority with workers (44%).
Le Pen electorate
Le Pen did best with the 35-49 group (43%), followed by those aged 25-34 (40%). Her lowest scores were with retired people (22%). Le Pen had a majority of workers voting for her (56%), and 46% of employees, but she scored badly with high level professionals (18%), retired people (26%).
Thus an article is titled in Le Monde. Despite a historic record, Le Pen faces criticisms within her party because the score was lower than polls predicted. She had left her surname out of the campaign, even the FN’s--she had run a very personalised campaign. Many have argued that the TV debate a few days before the elections was nothing short of a catastrophe for Le Pen, exposing her as essentially a protest candidate with no coherent programme.
Elena, a patron at the Rotondes on Sunday 7 May, told Delano:
“For the past 5 years, Marine Le Pen has done a lot of work in communicating and erasing superficially the roots of her party. But we have seen during the TV debate that it is a divisive party, not a uniting party. If she had won, we would not have seen a conciliatory speech, but a divisive speech by Le Pen. France is a country in which many cultures mix together, people have many different origins, and we need to learn to live together. I don’t think we could do that with Le Pen.”
Le Pen herself has announced an internal party reform, and even maybe a name change. However, she may find intense opposition to her suggestions.
Cas Mudde, associate professor at the school of public and international affairs at the University of Georgia and populism expert, has tweeted that: “Marine Le Pen has one month to regain her position within the FN. Parliamentary elections of June will be crucial”.
If the FN does badly in the elections, political infighting may be the result, and France’s new major opposition party will be weakened.
Looking ahead to parliamentary elections
Only 39% want Macron to get a parliamentary majority during the June assembly elections, according to an Ipsos poll.
70% of François Fillon’s voters in the first round of the election, 71% of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, 49% of Benoit Hamon’s and 21% of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s voters do not want him to get a parliamentary majority. This is significant because Macron does not have his own established political party yet, and needs to find his own candidates (likely some political novices along with other established politicians who rally around him). He is also likely to have to enter into some sort of coalitions with the established parties, facing a unique cohabitation period and possibly gridlock.
The elections will determine how effective Macron will be; if parliament blocks all his initiatives, then he is unlikely to deal with any of the challenges France faces. They will also have a significant impact on Europe’s many problems.