Macron’s Supporters Hail Victory for the EU at Party by LouvreBy , , and
President-elect Macron holds celebration in central Paris
France elects youngest president as establishment pushed aside
As Emmanuel Macron’s supporters greeted news of his French election victory by cheering and waving tricolors -- and European flags too -- in the shadow of the Louvre Museum, the talk was of revolution.
“It feels just great to have a 39-year-old president, someone who thinks like us, who believes in openness and in Europe,” said Fadila Benyahia, a 45-year-old Parisian. “Once more France is breaking the rules and staging a revolution.”
While the centrist Macron’s win over anti-euro nationalist Marine Le Pen was clearly projected by opinion polls, it was still remarkable by any other measure. He becomes France’s youngest elected president just a year after setting up his party En Marche! Along the way, he knocked out the Socialist and Republican candidates, the first time since the Fifth Republic was founded almost 60 years ago that the two establishment parties have both failed to reach the runoff.
The victory celebration saw a richly diverse crowd massed in the vast square of the Louvre, opposite the 71-foot (22-meter) pyramid of steel and glass commissioned by the late Socialist President Francois Mitterrand. Surrounded by students, middle-aged professionals, hipsters and immigrants, Cuban-born Ana Simo, who has lived in Paris for almost 50 years, looked up to the sky.
“A year ago, I first started to look online to find out who he was and what he was saying,” she recalled. “And now we’re here. It’s phenomenal.”
‘We Will Stay’
Simo, who distributed leaflets for Macron’s party in the last weeks of the campaign, said Le Pen’s score however was “still too much” and added: “The National Front must be destroyed.”
A group of women of African origin waved French flags as they danced, singing “We will stay” -- Le Pen had pledged to stop immigration during the campaign. A group of friends from various countries -- Italy, Germany, Spain and France -- came with the colors of the French flag painted on their faces.
Mathematics professor Cedric Villani, 43, who is likely to run with Macron’s party in next month’s parliamentary elections, said the win was “good news for scientists in France” as his program promised to foster global partnerships.
At Le Pen’s much more modest venue -- the Chalet du Lac restaurant on the capital’s eastern outskirts, which hosts tea dances three afternoons a week -- disappointed supporters defiantly shouted “Marine, the voice of France!” shortly after the first news broke on TV screens there.
“I want to thank the 11 million French people who gave me their votes and their trust,” Le Pen told them. “With this historic and massive result, the French people have designated the patriotic and republican alliance as the first opposition force against the project of the new president.”
‘Ode to Joy’
For many Macron supporters, the victory was not only for their country but also for Europe -- Macron has argued a reformed European Union could help fuel growth while Le Pen had threatened to abandon the euro and re-introduce the franc.
“I feel European as much as I feel French,” said Nassim Mokhtaru, 25, a sports management student. “The French have chosen Europe.”
“Europe was the issue of this election,” echoed Stephane Bouillet, a 43-year-old entrepreneur wrapped in a huge blue EU flag. “Now we can move on to real co-operation with our neighbors. On one side there’ll be Brexit, and on the other side there’ll be an ever-closer Europe.”
Late that evening, Macron strode across the huge courtyard of the Louvre as the music of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy -- the EU anthem -- blared from loudspeakers. From a floodlit stage, with the pyramid as a backdrop, Macron paid tribute to the historical legacy around him.
“From the French Revolution to the audacity of this pyramid, this is the place of all French men, of all French women,” he said. “This evening, Europe and the world are watching us.”