In the most anticipated presidential election since Americans voted last November, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist, in a decisive victory Sunday to become leader of France. The vote ensured renewed stability for the European Union (EU), but raised new questions on what’s next for France and the continent.
A boyish political newcomer who is unaffiliated with France’s traditional political parties, Macron, 39, is a banker and former economics minister. He ran an upbeat campaign movement titled “En Marche!,” vowing to keep France in the EU, continue immigration, and jump-start economic reforms. Because Le Pen had promised to pull France out of the EU, earning backing from both President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the election was widely seen as a bellwether on the union’s fate.
Arthur Goldhammer is a columnist who writes frequently on France’s politics and other issues. He’s also an award-winning French translator who has interpreted more than 125 books, including Thomas Piketty’s 2013 bestseller “Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century.” Goldhammer is a senior affiliate at the Minda de Gunzberg Center for European Studies at Harvard. He spoke with the Gazette about the election and what it means for France and the EU.
GAZETTE: What’s your reaction to the results?
GOLDHAMMER: I was not surprised that Macron won. The polls had been consistently in his favor by 60 to 40 percent throughout the campaign and hardly varied from that after a face-to-face matchup between him and Le Pen. The final margin was greater than that. He got just over 66 percent in the end, so that was slightly surprising. But even that did not really surprise me much because Le Pen did really badly in the debate between the two voting rounds. There was so much negative commentary on that that I thought he might well do better than the polls had indicated.