Emmanuel Macron to be France’s youngest President

Exit polls give him 65.5% vote; Le Pen concedes defeat

May 07, 2017 11:40 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 05:17 pm IST - PARIS

Emmanuel Macron leaves  his home in Paris on Sunday.

Emmanuel Macron leaves his home in Paris on Sunday.

Flag-waving crowds in front of the Louvre in central Paris on Sunday night broke into jubilant cheers as the first exit polls emerged, predicting centrist and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron’s victory in a bitterly fought presidential election.

Mr. Macron is predicted to win 65.5% of the votes against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s 34.5%, according to an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll, making the 39-year-old the youngest person to hold the office of President in the Fifth Republic. Mr. Macron told AFP that the poll outcome was the beginning of “a new chapter” in the country’s long history. “I want it to be one of hope and renewed confidence,” he said.

His margin of victory was more than 2% higher than was projected prior to the mandated blackout on media coverage that started at midnight on Friday.

While Ms. Le Pen may have lost, her party, Front National (FN), has beaten its previous record by a huge margin; the FN won 17.8% in the second round under Ms. Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, against Jacques Chirac in 2002.

In her speech shortly after the exit poll results were announced, Ms. Le Pen said the French people had voted in favour of continuity.

She also said the vote was a “historic decision” in which the French had chosen her alliance as the main opposition force to the President.

An unusually high voter abstention rate of 25.3% has been projected. French media and political analysts are attributing this to voter disappointment over their preferred candidates not making it to the second round, as well as rainy weather and people travelling as Monday is a public holiday.

Parties across the spectrum gear up for next battle

As the French elections wrap up, political parties across the spectrum are gearing up for the next battle, this time for the 577 seats in National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, which will be contested in two rounds on June 11 and 18.

Support from Assembly

Much of what President-elect Emmanuel Macron can achieve will depend on the support he can get in the Assembly. Usually the electorate gives the President they have elected a Parliamentary majority, and the presidential and parliamentary elections were synchronised in 2000 to support this outcome.

However, this year has been anything but usual, with neither the Socialists nor Republicans, France’s two mainstream parties, making it to the final round of the presidential race.

While these parties had started announcing their assembly candidate lists as early as 2016, the story has been different for the newer groups.

The far-left movement of Jean-Luc Melenchon, La France Insoumise, has not finalised its list yet and is racing to do that, Olivier Tonneau, who will run on the Insoumise ticket to represent French expats in several northern European countries including the U.K., told The Hindu . There are 11 expat constituencies globally.

En Marche ! has also fielded just a handful of candidates but has said it will contest each of the 577 seats. Mr. Macron has said half his candidates will be women, and the other half will equally feature both civil society and local government.

“You can have two situations, he will convincingly get a majority on his own… if he doesn’t win an overall majority he can enter into an alliance, German-style, after the elections, with other parties on the right and the left,” Ravi Viswanathan, a Singapore-based investor who is seeking an En Marche ! ticket told The Hindu . Mr. Viswanathan, who was born in Puducherry, has applied to run for the expat constituency that covers India, China and Russia.

If Mr. Macron cannot obtain a majority in Parliament or enter into a coalition agreement, he will have to call the majority party to form the government, headed by a prime minister it nominates.

This situation, called cohabitation has happened just three times in the Fifth Republic, most recently when President Jacques Chirac of the right had a socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin between 1997-2002.

Media boycott

Meanwhile, around 15 news outlets said they were barred from the election night gathering for French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and her supporters. Ms. Le Pen’s party said they were turned away because of a lack of space at the venue in Vincennes, just east of Paris.

Bloomberg News, Le Monde , Liberation and L’Humanite newspapers, and the newsweekly L’Obs said they would boycott the event out of “solidarity” with the other outlets.

“In solidarity with our counterparts, the editors of Liberation... have decided not to attend,” the paper’s deputy editor Johan Hufnagel said, calling the snub “anti-democratic”.

Le Monde ’s Editor-in-chief Luc Bronner said the move, coming “shows a poor concept of freedom of the press”.

( With AFP inputs )

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