When they went to the polls to choose a new president on May 7, the voters of France most likely took a deep breath before casting their ballots. Looking at the turmoil that’s developed with their neighbors in the United Kingdom following last year’s Brexit vote and the controversies that have dogged the new American president, Donald Trump, those voters decided that a centrist approach was the best course of action.
That resulted in Emmanuel Macron winning over the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in a landslide victory. Had the opposite taken place, it would have set into motion a series of proposed actions that would have dramatically changed the face of French politics and heightened tension around the world.
The reason stems from Le Pen’s clear intention to leave the European Union, a move that would have likely sounded the death knell for the organization. Great Britain’s pending move in that direction and what would have been the subsequent departure of France would have removed two cornerstones and turned Europe into a survival of the fittest contest between countries.
Trump’s subtle support of LePen stemmed primarily from her restrictive immigration policy proposals, which went farther by banning Muslims from entering France. Yet Le Pen has been on record as supporting the actions of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and didn’t offer the same level of support to Trump during his recent bombing campaign in that devastated nation.
Being the youngest president in French history and being a political neophyte means that the 39-year-old Macron will experience growing pains during his term of office. As a former investment banker, he figures to be business-friendly and the parallels actually put him more in line with Trump. Whether that fosters a like-minded kinship remains to be seen.