Saturday

22nd Jul 2017

Voters 'change face' of French politics

  • Macron called on voters to "break completely" with the French political system in the second round on 7 May. (Photo: Reuters)

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen qualified for the second round of the French presidential election on Sunday (23 April), in a vote that confirmed the will of French voters to repudiate the current political system.

Macron, a social-liberal who entered politics only a year ago and does not have an organised party, finished first with 23.90 percent of the votes. The far-right Le Pen, who had been leading polls for more than a year until a few days ago, came second with 21.70 percent.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Le Pen said that the vote was "an act of French pride".

The vote, in which 77.30 percent of registered voters took part, produced a sweeping result against the candidates of the two main traditional parties.

Benoit Hamon, from the Socialist party of outgoing president Francois Hollande, suffered what he called "a historical sanction" with 6.20 percent.

Hamon, who ran on a political line that was critical of Hollande, said that the sanction was also "legitimate".

The conservative candidate, Francois Fillon, was also kicked out by voters, who put him in the third place with less than 20 percent of the vote (19.70%).

Fillon, a former prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, was a one-time favourite for the election but he was weakened by the charges over alleged fake parliamentary jobs.

Fillon came only slightly ahead of Jean-Luc Melenchon, a radical left firebrand who benefited from the socialists' divisions and Hamon's failure to embody a vote for the left.

Both Macron and Le Pen said they represented a new kind of leader for France.

New politics

"We have changed the face of French politics," Macron told his supporters, mainly young people, who were gathered in a large hall in Paris where loud music was playing.

He said that the challenge" in the run-off would be "to decide to break completely with a system that has been unable to address our country's problem for more than 30 years".

He said that he wanted to be a "president who protects, who transforms and who builds" and that he wanted to represent a "path of hope" for a "strong Europe".

He insisted that he wanted to "unite" the French people and that he would be the "president of the patriots in the face of the nationalists' threat".

Speaking from Henin-Beaumont in northern France, one of the towns run by a mayor from her National Front (FN) party, Le Pen said that the vote was "an act of French pride".

She encouraged voters to vote for "the great change, the fundamental change", adding that she wanted to "free the French people from arrogant elites who want to dictate to them what to do".

"Yes, I am the candidate of the people," she said.

"What is at stake is the survival of France," she said, calling on voters to "choose borders that protect France's identity".

Lesser evil

Fifteen years after Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked France and the world by qualifying for the second round, his daughter's second place was welcomed by many with a sigh of relief as a lesser evil.

Politicians from the defeated mainstream parties quickly called to form a so-called republican front to prevent Le Pen from behind elected.

Prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that the result required "a clear and strong position" and called for French voters to elect Macron.

Hamon also supported a vote for Macron, "even if he doesn't represent the left".

Fillon was clear, and told his supporters that is was his "duty" to say that he would vote for Macron.

"There is no other choice than voting against the far-right," he said.

He argued that the National Front was "known for its violence and intolerance" and would bring "chaos to the EU" by pulling France out of the euro.

Melenchon said he would only recognise the results when he sees the final official figures and added that he has "no mandate" from his voters to give voting instructions for the run-off.

However, he commented that "mediacrats and oligarchs jubilate" over the vote's outcome.

According to a first opinion poll published on Sunday evening, Macron is forecasted to beat Le Pen in the second round on 7 May by 62 percent to 38.

Analysis

France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote

Tactical votes could still bring down either of the two favourites in France on Sunday in a nervous election seen as crucial for the future of the EU.

European right hopes Macron will save France

With Fillion all-but out of the election, a senior European politician said "committees" are working on what to do if Le Pen wins and takes France out of the EU.

Investigation

Meet Le Pen's friends at Trump Tower

French far-right leader met wealthy people at cocktail party in US president's building in January, spotlighting her longstanding US connections.

Analysis

French election run-off: Far right vs. EU

The run-off of the French presidential election will pit a pro-EU social-liberal Macron against anti-EU Marine Le Pen. Macron is likely to win but far-right support is higher than ever.

Focus

Political games behind Germany's gay marriage vote

Gay marriage was adopted in a snap vote at the German parliament on Friday. But lesbians and gays acquired this right after German chancellor Angela Merkel tried to sabotage the electoral campaigns of her opponents.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary