Macron, a 39-year-old pro-business centrist, defeated Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who called for France to exit the European Union, by a margin of 65.1 % to 34.9%. Early reports show a voter turnout of approximately 75%, the lowest turnout in many years.
Macron’s reputed margin of victory was bigger than the gap shown by pre-election polls, which projected a Macron victory by around 20 points. A former investment banker, Macron served for two years under President François Hollande as Minister of Economy, Industry, and Digital Data, but has never won an election. He only truly entered the public consciousness when he rebelled against the socialist party he served and ran as an independent presidential candidate for his En Marche movement. Macron is passionately pro-businesses and pro-EU. He built a reputation with his “Macron Law,” a controversial reform bill allowing, among other things, longer retail hours on Sunday.
48-year-old Marine Le Pen said that she called Macron to congratulate him and concede the election. Shortly after polls closed, Le Pen spoke to supporters, pledging a “profound reform” of the National Front party in an effort to create “a new political force.” Some have speculated that Le Pen may attempt to rename or rebrand the party to further separate it from past allegations of racism and antisemitism.
“Our patriotic and republican alliance will be the primary force of opposition to the programme of the new president,” Le Pen said on Sunday.
Le Pen is famed for her hardline anti-immigration views and opposition to the European Union. She has taken steps to soften the inflammatory image of the National Front party her father founded, and she has gained significant support among younger voters who find her antiestablishment and pro-French-worker stances appealing. Macron will be inaugurated on May 14 when Hollande is expected to step down. Despite Le Pen’s loss, the election marked a record result for National Front. Le Pen’s 35% was almost twice that of her father, Jean-Marie, who lost to Jacques Chirac in a presidential run-off in 2002. Macron must now work to win a majority for his En Marche! party in next month’s parliamentary election. The movement is around one year old and will have to field hundreds of candidates in the election.
Le Pen told supporters to look ahead to the parliamentary election and pledged to be the main voice of opposition to Macron’s movement.