Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected as France’s president, defeating Marine Le Pen in the presidential run-off with 58.5 per cent of the vote against Le Pen’s 41.5. His resounding victory against the far-right candidate has been a cause for celebration in the UK and in France, tempered by an awareness that Le Pen’s result is the best ever achieved by the nationalist movement since it was founded by Le Pen’s father in 1972.
Here in Westminster, some in government have taken the opportunity signal to voters on immigration ahead of the local elections, briefing the Daily Mail that they hope to reach a deal with Macron on Channel crossings now “his electioneering is out the way” – and for an end to Macron’s “relentless ‘Brit-bashing’”.
Despite the party-political slant to that analysis, the question of how Macron will change for his second term is the one preoccupying people across politics this morning. Aware that some of his mandate comes from an anti-Le Pen sentiment rather than his own project, Macron has promised that his second term “will not be a continuation of the last five years but that his ambition is to deliver change via an entirely new political project”, Ido, our Europe correspondent, wrote after the president’s victory speech in the early hours of this morning.
How much does he mean it? Ido writes: “To what extent Macron is sincere about changing course from what has been, for most intents and purposes, a centre-right presidency now that he is liberated from the constraints of needing to worry about winning re-election will be interesting to watch.” (You can read more analysis from Ido and our international team by subscribing to our sister newsletter, World Review.)
Macron cannot stand again in 2027, which means that, though he is aware that he needs to bring France together and deliver for people who held their nose to vote for him, he is freer than ever to act according to his own convictions. This raises a fascinating question for France, Europe and beyond: the world is watching to see who the real Macron is.