France's next president: Emmanuel Macron

What next, now French voters have chosen a pro-European centrist over a populist nationalist?


Tuesday, May 9 15:00 UK / 10:00 EDT

In the second round of the French presidential elections, voters faced a stark – and consequential -- choice between the right-wing populist economic nationalism of Marine Le Pen and the pro-EU centrist liberal globalism of Emmanuel Macron.

They chose the latter, but not with the conviction that Macron’s two-to-one victory at the polls suggests. Nearly two in five French voters chose ‘neither of the above’ by abstaining, spoiling their ballot paper or leaving it blank.

French politics has entered a new era, with the country divided and mainstream political parties in disarray. The governing Socialist party of outgoing President Francois Hollande may be in terminal decline. Meanwhile, Le Pen is indicating she intends to fill even more of the vacuum left by the collapse of the mainstream conservative right.

France is divided. The former investment banker and economy minister who is now to be country’s president despite never holding elected office before faces immense challenges in bridging those divides, challenges exacerbated by his lack of a broad-based political party to support him in government as June’s parliamentary elections bear down.

How Macron rises to those challenges and to revitalising the reform-resistant French economy will shape not just France over the next five years, but the European Union and the world beyond.

While his presidency will not shake the ‘European project’ in the way the Eurosceptic Le Pen could have, Macron could still make life uncomfortable for Brussels. He wants a less austerity-driven eurozone and a more open EU. Most of all, he wants to reform the EU 'to make it work better'.

Macron’s France could potentially challenge Germany’s primacy over steering the direction the EU takes and could imply a harder European line in Brexit negotiations.

And if Macron’s presidency fails, has Le Pen changed the debate in France sufficiently that her vision and her party is what France defaults to in five years time?

Join us on Tuesday, May 9th to put your questions to three of Oxford Analytica’s expert advisors on France and European affairs about the new political era that French voters have ushered in.