The French presidential election, as expected, ended with the re-election of Emmanuel Macron. He won 58.6 percent of the votes while his rival Marine Le Pen gained 41.4 percent.
The majority of French people once again preferred Macron and his policies to his rivals, especially the far right wing candidate Le Pen. Of course, this does not mean that the new president and his policies have been flawless in the eyes of the French, and that he will not face any problems during the second five years. What was worth considering in the election was the emergence of a serious rival for Macron and his party and, of course, other traditional parties in France.
Le Pen was also Macron’s rival during the previous election, but the competition became more serious in this year’s election such that other traditional parties in France fell behind Le Pen.
Now, the far right, which pursues a kind of nationalism in this country and has serious differences with the Europe-oriented policies, has significant votes in French society. In this round of elections, Le Pen also tried hard to present her previous policies and stances more rationally and to reduce the fear of the far right prevailing among people.
On the way ahead, Macron will face difficulties that will make it harder to implement his policies than in the past.
A large part of the people voted for Macron, especially in the second round, out of fear of the policies of the far right. It means that he lacks full approval from the voters for his policies. The number of blank votes in the second round of the elections reached 28 percent, and the turnout decreased by a few percent compared to the first round.
The demands of the left and the far right in France remain strong, and Macron has to pay attention to their demands while running the country, because the spread of protests in the country is not in favor of Macron and his party.
Macron is no longer concerned about re-election because he cannot run for more than two consecutive terms under the Constitution. So, instead of focusing more on his personal reputation, he should focus on his party’s reputation. Therefore, he is expected to be more moderate in implementing his government’s policies and adopting new policies, especially in domestic affairs.
In the field of foreign policy, however, Macron seems to pursue a European-oriented policy, a policy that gives more credibility to the European Union. Since the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine, he has sought to highlight Europe’s key role in this regard, although he cooperated with the United States.
As one of the EU’s most important countries, France is now facing a difficult test of whether it can take European independence one step further. Macron will also certainly pay more attention to the Middle East region. After the US withdrawal from the region, France seems to be more interested in playing a greater role and have better relations with the regional countries. Traditionally, France has had influence in Lebanon and now intends to strengthen ties with countries in the region to secure its economic interests and consider the security of the EU.
*Seyyed Jalal Sadatian holds a Ph.D. in strategic management and is an expert on international affairs in Tehran. He has previously served as Iran’s ambassador to Britain.