The projected results from France’s run-off presidential election show that centrist Emmanuel Macron, former economy minister, is the winner with 65 percent of the vote. This decisive victory was despite a historically high abstention rate due to the low popularity of both candidates, but particularly Marcon’s opponent, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen.
8% of people who voted today cast a blank or null ballot—France 2 says. A record; it was 5% in 2002's right/far-right runoff.
— Taniel (@Taniel) May 7, 2017
Le Pen’s defeat bucks the emerging Western trend of populism, marked by Britain’s “Brexit” vote and the U.S. election of Donald Trump. She ran on a vocally anti-Islam and anti-immigrant platform, and had she won, it could have destabilized the European Union and fueled more bigotry throughout the region.
As happened in the U.S. election, Russian hacking attempted to interfere with the French election, dumping a massive trove of documents Friday night that seemed to design to attack Macron. Unlike in the U.S., however, French media did little to promote the details of the leaked emails and documents, thanks in part to a media blackout — standard practice in the days immediately leading up to the election — so it seems to have had little impact on the election. Macron’s campaign also claimed to have anticipated such hacks and fed bogus information to the phishing pages.
In both the initial election and this runoff, the results were fairly consistent with the polling. Neither candidate in the runoff represented a mainstream party or enjoys widespread popularity, but fear of Le Pen’s extremism seems to have strongly impacted Sunday’s outcome.
At just 39 years old, Macron will be France’s youngest president.