Macron’s re-election masks deep French malaise — Analysis

The re-elected president’s second term risks being as plagued by protest as his first one

French President Emmanuel Macron sailed to a re-election victory on April 24 with 58.5% of the vote over populist challenger Marine Le Pen’s 41.4%. However, his mandate to lead France took a blow. 

According to a voting day Ipsos Sopra Steria poll, 42% of second-round voters who ultimately chose Macron, only did so to block Le Pen – routinely portrayed as dangerously far-right in the mainstream French press – and not because they overtly support Macron and his program. In his triumph speech, the President acknowledged that phenomenon. 

The math therefore suggests that Macron’s actual support among the French who bothered to vote in the final round (with a 53-year record high of 28% of them choosing not to) was only about 41%. The resounding win praised by President Ursula von der Leyen of European Union Commission is not as impressive. “Together, we will move France and Europe forward,” said the bureaucrat, who was elected by even fewer French than Macron (that is, zero). 

Various media outlets referred to other European leaders breathing a sigh of relief that Macron remained at the helm of one of the leading European nations – namely German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. 

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The post-victory cheers started rolling in but the American Embassy in France already had a message less positive prepared for its citizens, before the final vote. “expect spontaneous gatherings in cities throughout France after 8pm”Which “could potentially turn violent.” Indeed, protesters upset with the result – if not with the lack of ballot choice – hit several French cities on election night. 

Macron’s second term risks being dominated by the same street opposition that plagued his first term, when he incrementally but surely aligned France with an agenda friendly to global financial interests – including big pharma vaccine mandates, big-tech digital green passes, and climate-change-backed wealth redistribution, away from the working class.

It speaks volumes of the sociological aspects of final round voting.

Among voters who earn less than €1,250 per month, 56% of them voted for Le Pen over Macron, according to the Ipsos Sopra Steria poll. Harris Interactive also found that 77% chose Macron among the executives or managers, and 67% of blue-collar workers favored Macron. 57% of employees preferred Le Pen.

According to the survey, Macron also enjoyed the support of 72% voters older than 65. And 76% of the far left’s second-round voters turned to Macron, undoubtedly to block Le Pen and just as their leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the France Unbowed party, had requested.

Le Pen comments on French election results

Nonetheless, there was an 11% shift in expressed votes from Macron to Le Pen among young people aged 18-24 years compared with the 2017 Macron-Le Pen matchup, no doubt a sign of disappointment with the establishment status quo, despite being tempered by the far-left’s unwillingness to prioritize reining in the establishment over right/left ideology. 

All this leads to an increase in the social and economic disparities among different age groups. However, there is a striking new phenomenon. The French overseas territories and ‘départments’ voted overwhelmingly for Le Pen – including the French départment of Mayotte, which has the highest Muslim population in the country. Although Le Pen was often called anti-Muslim by the media due to her advocacy of secularism, 59% chose Le Pen.

And in  Guadeloupe, whose population famously resisted Covid mandates and restrictions (and which Le Pen opposes), the National Rally candidate bested Macron, with 70% of the vote. In Martinique where, like Guadeloupe, many citizens in the Caribbean never forgot how Paris lied to them about the dangers of the carcinogen chlordecone, used on their banana plantations from 1972 to 1993, and therefore harbor a similar distrust of the Covid-19 jab, Le Pen walked away with 61% of the vote. 

A clash of worldviews: What’s shaping the Macron-Le Pen presidential stand-off?

Macron could face trouble holding onto his present large majority at the French National Assembly. He has been able to pass almost any law he likes. The longstanding tradition in France suggests that French voters will use the June elections to balance the power against Macron. 

The buzz among the French chattering class is that Macron will have no choice now but to draw lessons from the presidential vote and temper his ambitions accordingly, lest he spend the next five years dealing with the majority of French who didn’t vote for his program. But relying, post-electorally, on Macron showing some kind of potential future goodwill and benevolence, and prioritizing the interests of average citizens over those of establishment elites, doesn’t seem to be the best game plan. And if he doesn’t, expect the rise of anti-establishment populism to continue. 

Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.



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