Dubai: France has spoken, and President Emmanuel Macron has won a second term at the Elysee Palace. He won 58 per cent of the vote, with his far-right rival Marine Le Pen bagging 42 per cent.
He will be relieved that he was the clear winner in the election; a narrow margin would have been particularly difficult to manage for the French leader. But his jubilation will be tempered by the fact that many of the votes he got were not necessarily from people who supported him - many voted for him just because they did not want to vote for Le Pen and her far-right agenda.
He will also note that the result is narrower than their run-off in 2017. Make no mistake: This election is the closest the far-right has come to winning the biggest political prize in France.
Unusual in democracies
True to form, Le Pen was bitter and did not congratulate Macron in her speech after the results, which is unusual in liberal democracies. She is now preparing for parliamentary elections in June and rallying her supporters for the elections, which will actually determine how much real power Macron will have. French parliament is particularly active when the president is from the other side of the political divide.
Macron’s victory will be welcomed outside France. Such was the relief in Europe that EU chief Charles Michel said the Union ‘can count on France for five more years’. The EU has been apprehensive of late, following Brexit and the departure of Angela Merkel from the political scene.
Macron will see the victory as a clear mandate for his second - and last - term in office. The victory gives him the room to pursue his political agenda at full blast.