Emmanuel Macron’s defeat of Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election on Sunday was a victory for moderation over extremism. But despite the collective sigh of relief from the EU and many in the West, Macron’s work is just beginning and the road ahead is filled with obstacles.
“Many of our compatriots voted for me not out of support for my ideas but to block those of the extreme right. I want to thank them and I know that I have a duty towards them in the years to come,” Macron said.
Macron’s second-round campaign was carried by moderate left-wing voters, who wanted to prevent a Le Pen presidency. Marine Le Pen is widely seen as stigmatizing immigrants and religious minorities, all while opposing the European Union. Those voters made him one of the few French presidents to win a second term, but his margin of victory—58 percent to 41 percent—was not overwhelming and the abstention rate of 28 percent was the highest since 1969.
Most fascinating are the first numbers about the vote on Sunday, divided by age group and profession. Macron was largely supported by voters ages 18 to 24 and older than 70, while Le Pen carried 50- to 59-year-olds and was head to head with Macron in the 25 to 34 age bracket. Le Pen’s support mainly came from workers and employees in the private sector, while Macron got most of his support from government employees and retired citizens.