Macron Claims Victory, Now Must Effect Change

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

Mr. Emmanuel Macron, France’s new president, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris a er his inauguration.

In the widely observed and anticipated French election held on May 7,  Emmanuel Macron of the centrist-progressive En Marche party beat his opponent Marine Le Pen of the conservative nationalist National Front party. Since winning the election, Macron and his party have received international recognition and acclaim.

While Macron did triumph over Le Pen by a sizable 32 point margin, he faced many obstacles in his path to electoral victory. In a similar situation to the US presidential election, Mr. Macron’s campaign was the victim of a debilitating and exposing hacking attack. Less than 48 hours before the polls opened, unidentified perpetrators unleashed, according to Macron’s campaign, a “massive and coordinated hacking operation” on the team in order to mar Mr. Macron’s political and personal image. As CNN reported, over 14.5 gigabytes of Mr. Macron’s emails and other documents were released on a file sharing site called Pastebin. In order to further tarnish the campaign’s image and propagate misinformation, the hackers falsified records and mixed them among the real documents. Although the exact identity of the hackers has yet to be determined, Russia is a prime suspect for the crime due to their similar efforts to destabilize the American election.

Despite this setback, Mr. Macron still sailed to victory — winning with 66% of the vote, according to the Financial Times. During the final round of the election, many supporters of La France insoumise leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon and former Socialist Party candidate Benoît Hamon switched allegiance to Mr. Macron, while some diehard conservative supporters of the former The Republicans party candidate Francois Fillon opted for Mrs. Le Pen — despite Mr. Fillon’s endorsement of Mr. Macron. Approximately one third of Mélenchon voters abstained from the vote, according to Reuters, but this obstinance did not bring down Mr. Macron’s numbers.

At age 39, Mr. Macron is France’s suddenly youngest president. Despite having less political experience than some of his competitors, he has informed the French public that he intends to get to work immediately. The majority of Mr. Macron’s voters came from the higher end of the French economic spectrum, where the rates of life expectancy and exposure to education are higher. This informed demographic chose Mr. Macron as a representative of change and a herald of a new era for France.

Although Mr. Macron has emerged victorious from the election, he still has many obstacles to overcome in currying the French people’s favor. Past French presidents have been ridiculed and disliked for their behaviors, often viewed as pompous and out of touch. For instance, Mr. Macron’s predecessor, François Hollande, claimed he would “set a course” for France. Too often, however, he seemed more intent on setting a course for himself, spending lavish amounts of money on his personal needs. For example, Mr. Hollande was said to have spent $132,000 per year on his hair, which put him at the center of a social media movement appropriately dubbed CoiffeurGate.

Mr. Macron, known as a wealthy and privileged man, will have to distance himself from the image of his predecessor if he hopes to unite France after the schismatic election. During the campaign, Mr. Macron stated, “The division and fractures in our society must be overcome… The world and Europe needs France more than ever.” Unlike Le Pen, Macron is looking to strengthen France’s role within the EU and target terrorism without excluding citizens of ethnicities and home countries living in France.

Through dedication, Mr. Macron became France’s eighth president. As impressive as his electoral triumph was, the rest of the world is now looking to him to redefine France and address the many issues facing today’s world.

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