Analysis: The French Republic is alive, vive la République!

08 05 17

Read the original article here.

The challenges are immense, and the task awaiting the new president looks laborious — the country is fractured, and the rate of abstention in this election was historic — but for the moment, there is cause for celebration. A celebration of freedom and the triumph of the Republic’s values and unity over regression and withdrawal.

Freedom. Equality. Fraternity. This motto, which a victory of the far-right would undoubtedly have spoiled, can resonate loudly and proudly, at least for tonight, until it comes a time tomorrow to analyze the reasons why so many French citizens shunned the ballot box in the face of such a decisive election.

France, the country of revolution and enlightenment, erected a barricade against extremism by blocking the road for Le Pen to reach the Elysee. The National Front is not dead, but France, despite its anger and division, said no to a Le Pen presidency – at least for now.

The “republican front” – the alliance between left and right politicians to block the far-right from the presidency – served its purpose, although record abstentions revealed a deep sense of malaise among some voters. Some of those left disappointed by the first round, the so-called “no-no” voters, looked within themselves and went reluctantly to the polls to vote for Emmanuel Macron with near-disgust on Sunday.

Others, however, took a risk: abstaining in order to voice protest, even if it meant boosting the National Front. It is this category of the French populace, those so unwilling to cast a vote for him that they would risk a victory for the extreme right, that Emmanuel Macron will have to prioritize if he wants to stop the fracturing of France into two halves.

However, to all those who saw in the unlikely election of Donald Trump as president of the United States a harbinger of a potential Marine Le Pen victory, the French showed that they were not ready to yield to populism, despite the temptation.

Certainly, Macron’s victory is far from the 80 percent received by Jacques Chirac when running against Le Pen’s father in 2002 – but Macron’s position today is much more comfortable than that of an aging Chirac who was reelected almost entirely by default.

The victory of Macron’s En Marche! with over 60 percent of the vote certainly would not have been possible against another “republican” candidate – but reducing his election to a mere rallying against the extreme right would be tantamount to denying the enthusiasm the candidate inspired and which made possible his sprint to the Elysee.

The seemingly impossible gamble by the candidate who was unknown to voters three years ago was made possible partly by the implosion of the traditional parties, but also by the support he has managed to amass since his movement’s creation. He forged a political identity in a matter of months, something which took other politicians years to achieve.

The new president can therefore savor his victory over the extreme right, but must now work to reproduce the same achievement in terms of the next parliamentary election, as well as annihilating the National Front in the long term. This will be his challenge.

Marion Bernard is a journalist and head of i24NEWS’ French website


Stay informed

Sign up for emails from HOPE not hate to make sure you stay up to date with the latest news, and to receive simple actions you can take to help spread HOPE.


We couldn't do it without our supporters

Fund research, counter hate and support and grow inclusive communities by donating to HOPE not hate today

I am looking for...


Useful links

Close Search X
Donate to HOPE not hate