Tonight I am pleased … almost giddy, as it were! The French exhibited great common sense and showed Ms. Marine LePen the door, electing Emmanuel Macron by a decisive margin … 66% to 34%, according to the Guardian. This despite Putin’s efforts to rig the election in favour of LePen, as he did for Trump in the U.S. election last year.
Macron’s victory speech was somber and gracious. He said he accepted that many had voted for him even though they disagreed with his programme to “defend the republic against extremism”. When he mentioned those who had voted for Marine Le Pen, there were boos and whistles from the crowd. “No, don’t whistle them. They have expressed today their anger and dismay – and sometimes convictions. I respect that. But I will do everything I can in the next five years so there is no reason to vote for extremes. Tonight, there is only the reunited people of France. The world is watching us. Europe and the world. I will serve you with love.”
The man has class. Mssr. Macron understands the divide the populist movement has wrought upon his nation and I believe he plans to do everything in his power to help heal that divide. He said he was speaking to all of France’s citizens, not just those who had voted for him. His primary task over the coming five years, he added, was to “calm people’s fears, restore France’s confidence, and gather all its people together to face the immense challenges that face us”.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the channel, they were not so gracious about Macron’s win. Had LePen won, it was likely that she would have advocated for France leaving the European Union, a Frexit, if you will. Britain’s own Nigel Farage had set up a group to advocate for just such an eventuality, and that group was more than a little put out, apparently, by the results of yesterday’s election. A tweet from the group read that that the French people had once again “rolled over” just as they had done in 1940 – except this time they saved Germany “the bullets and the fuel”. Farage himself got in on the act, tweeting: “A giant deceit has been voted for today. Macron will be Juncker’s puppet.”
Hillary Clinton, having herself been the victim of Putin’s election interference, tweeted this:
“Victory for Macron, for France, the EU, & the world. Defeat to those interfering w/democracy. (But the media says I can’t talk about that) 4:32 PM – 7 May 2017”
Donald Trump, who had supported LePen, saying she was “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France”, congratulated Macron and said he looks forward to working with him. Theresa May of the UK said, “we look forward to working with the new president on a wide range of shared priorities”. The aforementioned Nigel Farage tweeted, “@EmmanuelMacron offers 5 more years of failure, power to the EU and open borders. If @MLP_officiel sticks in there, she can win in 2022.”
Reactions from other world leaders:
- “Your victory is a victory for a strong united Europe and for the Franco-German friendship.” – Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
- Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, said the result made him “… happy that the ideas that you defended of a strong and progressive Europe that protects all its citizens will be those that France will cherish under your presidency”.
- Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said: “We supported him from the very start. I am relieved by his defeat of demagoguery and populism. I am also proud of his commitment to a social, liberal European project.”
- “The citizens of France entrusted you to lead the country in a difficult period for Europe and for the entire world community. The growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism is accompanied by an escalation of local conflicts and the destabilisation of entire regions. In these condition it is especially important to overcome mutual distrust and join forces to ensure international stability and security.” – Vladimir Putin, Russian President
Predictably, there were the naysayers, primarily in the ranks of LePen’s supporters, some responding with vitriol, mocking Macron’s wife, his platform, and whatever else they could think of, but that, I am coming to realize, is the mentality of the masses and exists in every venue. Overall, I think the western world had been holding its collective breath, and yesterday breathed a sigh of profound relief. I know I did. Vive la France!