Macron defeats Le Pen: Highlights of the French Presidential Vote


■ The independent centrist Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen and will become the next president of France, according to preliminary results on Sunday, ending a bitter campaign to determine the country’s future participation in a united Europe.

■ With almost all of the ballots counted, Mr. Macron had about 65 percent of the vote and a decisive lead over Ms. Le Pen, who was at about 35 percent.

■ Nearly a quarter of eligible voters did not cast a ballot, according to the Interior Ministry, and turnout was lower than in the past three presidential elections. This suggests that voters’ anger remains strong in France, and the new government will have to contend with this disaffection.

■ The result suggests that the populist wave may have crested in Europe, for now. And while French voters wanted change, they may have been turned off by the angry tone of Ms. Le Pen’s far-right National Front.

■ Our correspondents in France and elsewhere in Europe provided analysis of the election as results were counted.

Emmanuel Macron: Political Newcomer Finds Success

Mr. Macron, 39, said Sunday that “a new page of our long history is opening.”

Looking somber and speaking alone at a lectern in front of French and European Union flags, the former investment banker and economy minister who has never held elected office said he knew there were “divisions in our nation that led some to extreme votes.”

Marine Le Pen: Falling Short on the Far-Right

Ms. Le Pen, 48, wasted no time in looking ahead after her defeat. She said the results left the National Front positioned as a new “patriotic and republican alliance” that would be “the primary opposition force against the new president.”

But she also said that her party needed to “profoundly renew itself,” and that she would work to make the National Front a “new political force.”

During the final stage of the campaign, Ms. Le Pen had temporarily stepped down from her post as leader of her party to campaign against Mr. Macron. She will likely renew the National Front’s anti-globalization, anti-immigration drive and press her opposition to the European Union in other ways.

What Was at Stake?

France is a founding member of the European Union, and it would have been a devastating blow to the continental bloc had Ms. Le Pen won and pursued her goal of leading France out of the euro currency zone or even the union itself. Victory for Mr. Macron is another setback for far-right populists in Europe, bringing sighs of relief in Berlin and Brussels (Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, was quick to congratulate Mr. Macron on Sunday night, as were several other European leaders).

The results were a blow to President Trump, who, without directly endorsing Ms. Le Pen, suggested he favored her candidacy. Still, Mr. Trump tweeted his congratulations to Mr. Macron, saying that he looked “very much forward” to working with him. Former President Barack Obama had expressed support for Mr. Macron.The French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at a polling station in Hénin-Beaumont, France, on Sunday. Credit: Francois Mori/Associated Press

The Importance of Turnout

Low turnout and a high number of blank ballots (a form of protest vote) had been expected to benefit Ms. Le Pen, whose voter base appeared in polls as more committed than Mr. Macron’s. But that did not appear to be the case.

About a quarter of the electorate abstained, with many in France forced to choose between two candidates they did not like in the final round of voting. Approximately 10 percent of those who did turn out cast an empty or discounted ballot.

The French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron greeted supporters after casting his vote on Sunday in Le Touquet, France. Credit: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

“I respect them,” he said. “I know the anger, the anxiety, the doubts that a large part of you have also expressed.”

Still, Mr. Macron, a pro-business candidate who wants to overhaul France’s labor market, favors free trade and backs a stronger European Union. He will try to balance his views with the worries of millions of French workers.

Mr. Macron had been expected to pick up support from the left and right in the runoff, if only from those who wanted to keep Ms. Le Pen from reaching the presidency — a French political tradition known as the “Republican Front,” in which mainstream parties ally against the far right.

There had been cracks in that front, but voters’ distaste for Ms. Le Pen motivated enough of them to turn out to deny her a path to victory.

The Challenges for the Winner

The economy is the electorate’s main concern, and Mr. Macron will have to tackle high unemployment and sluggish growth while also addressing the worries of blue-collar workers about globalization and immigration.

Security is also a major concern, as reflected in a vicious debate on Wednesday in which the two candidates sparred over their antiterrorism policies and an attack in Paris that occurred just days before the first round of voting.

But the most pressing issue will be the legislative elections. Because Mr. Macron belongs to a new party, he will struggle to get enough representatives elected to the National Assembly, France’s lower and more powerful house of Parliament, to support his agenda.

Although the president nominates the prime minister, Mr. Macron must find someone who reflects the political majority in that assembly, to avoid a government-toppling motion of censure.

Without a majority, Mr. Macron could be forced into an uncomfortable collaboration with a legislature and a prime minister of an opposing political persuasion, significantly hobbling his ability to pursue goals.

The Hacking Investigation

The Macron campaign was hit late Friday by a large dump of leaked campaign documents. There was an official French media blackout on sharing the specific contents of the hacking before the vote, and the troves of data did not appear to have had a large impact on the election’s result.

Links to zip and torrent files were posted under the profile of someone called EMLEAKS on Pastebin, an anonymous publishing website. The archive was shared on the popular forum 4chan and promoted on Twitter by far-right activists, before WikiLeaks gave it extensive exposure online.

The leak appeared to mostly involve documents that showed the mundane inner workings of a presidential campaign, including professional and private emails, memos, contracts and accounting documents. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the hacking.

Mr. Macron’s campaign had said that all of the stolen documents were “legal” and “authentic” but that fake ones had been added to “sow doubt and disinformation.” It denounced the hack as an attempt to destabilize democracy.

It was not clear what was genuine and what wasn’t. It will presumably take experts weeks to sift through and assess all the leaked documents. Experts suspect a Russian-linked espionage operation known as A.P.T. 28, or Fancy Bear, may be involved, although there is no firm evidence that the operation was behind the thefts. European and American analysts have determined that the group was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee in the United States.

Mr. Macron’s party has been targeted by hackers since last year. Last month, Trend Micro, a cybersecurity firm, said that a hacking group believed to be a Russian intelligence unit had attacked Mr. Macron’s campaign, sending emails to campaign officials and others with links to fake websites designed to bait them into turning over passwords.



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