Multiple unpredictable election results have left the Western world scratching its collective head over the past year. The most high-profile examples of this phenomenon include the Brexit victory, by which the United Kingdom passed a referendum to exit the European Union. Donald Trump then shocked the world by winning the U.S. presidency. So, when far-right, populist French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (who many have compared to Trump) advanced to the run-off a few weeks ago, things grew more interesting.
Even though most predictions handed centrist French candidate Emmanuel Macron a lead, caution prevailed. Once the polls closed, however, early results showed Macron pulling ahead by double digits, and very quickly, both the New York Times and CNN called the election in favor of Macron. Before much longer, official CNN estimates placed Macron with 65.9% of the vote as compared to Le Pen’s 34.1%.
In the aftermath of these results, cable-news talking heads are wondering whether U.S.-based endorsements mattered or if there’s a “Trump effect” at work. For what it’s worth, Barack Obama recently threw support beind Macron while Trump implicitly endorsed Le Pen through his tweets. Nonetheless, his Twitter account has expressed congratulations for Macron.
Macron, who is 39 years young, will now become France’s youngest-ever president. As for Le Pen, she had vowed to pull France out of the European Union and to advance an extremist agenda, so the stakes were undoubtedly high. Her rising popularity whipped up a nationalist breed of supporters who favored both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic viewpoints. It’s no wonder that this weekend saw anti-Le Pen displays like this one at the Eiffel Tower.
Here’s a clip of Le Pen’s concession speech. She declared that her candidacy introduced “a new configuration,” which she will continue to advance, into French politics.