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8 May 2017updated 09 May 2017 4:16pm

Emmanuel Macron’s triumph shows you don’t need to pander to the right to win

The new French president chose a different path to Theresa May, Angela Merkel and the Netherlands' Mark Rutte.

By Stephen Bush

He’s done it! Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential election in a landslide.

It is a remarkable achievement: a neophyte campaigner who founded his own party barely over a year ago is heading to the Élysée.

How much he’ll be able to do in domestic politics will be shaped by how well En Marche! does in the legislative elections. (So far we have just one poll of that race, showing En Marche! on course to win a majority, but a narrow one.)

Yes, he also relied on remarkable good fortune to get here. If François Fillon hadn’t been overcome by corruption charges, the European centre-right would be celebrating yet another electoral triumph. If Benoît Hamon hadn’t flumped out in the televised debates, he might have surged instead of Jean Luc Mélenchon, whose opposition to the European project always put a cap on the voters he could reach out to.

But most leaders rely on a stroke of luck. But for that letter from James Comey, Hillary Clinton would have won the electoral college as well as the popular vote. Theresa May might well become the most electorally successful Tory leader having had to overcome Andrea Leadsom and Jeremy Corbyn.

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It is nonetheless remarkable that Macron, unlike May – and Angela Merkel in Germany and Mark Rutte in the Netherlands – has triumphed over the nativist right not by borrowing some of their hit tunes but by repudiating them entirely. That’s a cause for some optimism at least, however the legislative elections in June turn out for President Macron.