Sometimes the polls aren’t wrong. On Sunday, centrist French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right hopeful Marine Le Pen in a rerun of their 2017 presidential runoff.
Macron is the first incumbent re-elected in France since 2002, when Jacques Chirac routed Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. The president is projected to capture 58.8% of the vote once all the ballots are counted, compared to 41.2% for Le Pen, according to polling agency Ipsos. That’s slightly more than the polls predicted but a much narrower margin than in 2017.
In the end, most French voters picked Macron’s promise of an open France, a strong EU, and more responsible public spending over Le Pen’s vision of getting tough on immigration, weakening the bloc, and having a France-first welfare state.
Still, the fact that more than 40% of the electorate was on board with Le Pen's policies, which would have been at odds with both Brussels and the French constitution, cannot be ignored. Her political ideas are not going away, regardless of whether she decides to run for the top office again in 2027.
Macron’s victory avoids a political earthquake in Europe while war is being waged on its eastern flank. One world leader who was hoping for an upset was Vladimir Putin, whom Le Pen embraced in the past but has notably tried to distance herself from as part of her rebrand to court moderate voters. Now, the Russian president knows that Europe will remain united in their stand against Russia’s war in Ukraine — the lone exception being Viktor Orbán, Putin’s recently re-elected buddy in Budapest.What comes next for the French president? “This is a great triumph for Emmanuel Macron,” tweeted Mujtaba Rahman, Eurasia Group's top Europe analyst. Rahman believes the incumbent’s better-than-expected result over Le Pen gives him momentum for his La République en Marche party to win a majority in June’s parliamentary election.