Pollsters haven’t had a good reputation as of late, but they can breathe a sigh of momentary relief after Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen made it into the second (and final) round of France’s presidential election.
Mr Macron, an independent centrist ( and amateur philosopher), came top with 23.9 per cent of the vote, while his far-Right rival came just behind with 21.4 per cent. His supporters will be pleased that she didn’t perform any better given that recent events have fallen in her favour. Britain’s vote for Brexit and the election of President Trump was expected to boost her populist appeal, while the recent attack on the Champs-Élysées in Paris just days ensured voters had security high in their mind. Mr Macron showed his delight at his win by inviting his supporters, including a string of Parisian celebrities, to a glitzy restaurant.
European leaders were there in spirit with him. Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Mr Macron on his victory and wished him well in his battle against Le Pen, who he said sought the “destruction” of the bloc. Europe will remain a fiercely debated issue over the next few days, with Le Pen dubbing her rival – who polls currently say will easily win – a “hysterical, radical Europeanist”. Our Europe editor Peter Foster has explored why President Macron would be bad news for Theresa May given his promise to drive a hard bargain over Brexit.
Europe’s elite is busy congratulating Mr Macron but it’s worth bearing in mind that he has yet to be elected President. He still has two more weeks to go, with a head-to-head debate planned in the next few days. The pollsters got the first round of the French presidency right, but the Brexit and Trump votes showed that a lot can change in the final few days of a campaign when voters focus on the detail.
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