Balance of Power Extra: What Macron’s Victory Means for France

The Meteoric Rise of France's New President 

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Emmanuel Macron has pulled off one of the greatest triumphs of modern European politics.

His victory over Marine Le Pen in Sunday's presidential election not only beat back the populist wave started by Brexit and Donald Trump, but it also marks a watershed for France. For the first time since the Fifth Republic was founded in 1958, it will be governed by a president from neither of the main parties.

And yet, few French leaders have faced deeper problems on taking office. Macron, who at 39 will be the youngest elected head of state in the country's history, inherits a deeply divided and unhappy society. One in three voters preferred Le Pen's anti-European, anti-immigrant nationalism.

As Marc Champion writes, Macron may be the last chance for the political establishment to save itself. A succession of presidents going back to Jacques Chirac have failed to push through the reforms needed to revitalize an economy plagued by high unemployment. And for many French men and women, the taboo against voting for a radical, far-right candidate has been broken.

Future radical candidates have a solid base on which to build. For President Macron, the stakes are high.

Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 7. Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 7. 

Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg


Election Headlines

Breakdown of results | In the end, it was a commanding victory for Macron. The president-elect will probably win the election with around 65 percent of the vote against 35 percent for Le Pen, according to pollster estimates. Turnout was 75.9 percent, down 5 percentage points from last time. For Le Pen, the numbers will be a disappointment, but her share of the vote is almost double what her father, Jean-Marie, scored in 2002.

Macron somber in victory | “A new page of our long history is turning tonight,” an unsmiling Macron told his supporters at a victory rally. “I will fight with humility and determination.” He said he understands the anger of those who voted for Le Pen, knows they must be listened to, and pledged to defend Europe and fight terrorism. He then headed to the Louvre museum, where thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds gathered for an open-air celebration.

Le Pen defiant | The far-right candidate positioned herself as Macron's only true opponent after the two establishment parties were swept aside in this election. In a measured concession speech to supporters, she also sought to sideline rivals in her National Front by pledging to reshape the party as it gets ready for June's parliamentary elections.

How Macron won | The moment Macron swept aside the doubters about his ability to become president came when he waded into a crowd of angry workers during a factory strike in his hometown of Amiens on April 26. Bloomberg's Mark Deen looks at how a cerebral member of Paris's cosmopolitan elite with no affiliations to any of the main parties beat the system and become France's youngest-ever president.

What happens now? | Macron must be sworn in by May 14. The first big decision will be his pick for prime minister, which will give a clue as to whether he plans to govern with the help of the Socialists or the center-right Republicans. The next step will be June's parliamentary elections, where his En Marche! movement currently has no representation. Without a majority there, he will need the support of either the Republicans or the Socialists to push his agenda through. For more, read our QuickTake Q&A on the road ahead for Macron.

And finally... Macron won the French presidency by the second-largest margin since 1965. The biggest victory of recent times was scored by Jacques Chirac in 2002 when he defeated another Le Pen -- Marine's father, Jean-Marie.

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