Emmanuel Macron, President of France, and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, are the new “political sweethearts” of the world. Their youth, their energy, their balanced speeches and inclusive attitudes make people hope for a new type of world leader. Even so, this would not be the first time people were impressed only to be severely disappointed afterwards. But let us focus a bit on Macron, 2017’s bit of good news as some saw it. The context of his victory is very interesting and it surely played a great part. Not to say that he did not have his merits in delivering a very optimistic, up-beat message of unity, but the lack of an alternative did push him a bit forward. Let’s see how everything came together and gave France one of the most likeable presidents, within and outside its borders.
6 Things that Influenced Macron’s Victory
1. He had the foresight of moving away from Francois Hollande and his party
Macron, the protégé of Francois Hollande and economy minister, could have joined the ranks and ridden on the socialist ticket. Instead, he realized that the socialist claims are still difficult to be heard and he knew that the time had come to move away from this ideology.
He foresaw that party activists would go with a more far-left candidate, one who would not stand a chance before Francois Mélenchon. And he was right.
2. He took his cues from the best possible place
Prior to the campaign, Macron’s volunteers did some surveys, and they did them by the book. Instead of simply spreading the word about a new candidature, instead of gathering support signatures and focusing on numbers, they collected vital information from the people who were representative for the communities they reached out to.
Therefore, thousands of in-depth interviews were conducted, providing future president Macron with vital information on the real needs of the people he was asking to vote for him and with what they thought would be good solutions. While in debates his counter-candidate fumbled in the dark and practiced hate speeches, his answers showed a mastery of the real issues of the country.
3. He got seriously lucky
In this race, people had to choose between a hatred-spreading candidate, that threatened to destabilize society as they knew it, and a newcomer with a strong allegiance to the EU and Angela Merkel. The center-right candidate, Francois Fillon seemed like the right and the moderate choice, until a scandal with fake jobs to cash in on unearned salaries knocked him out of the race. The fact that the scandal was about his wife made things worse. This left a serious number of moderate, center voters without any other option.
4. A message of inclusion versus a message of hatred and separation
Images from both campaigns speak loudly. While Le Pen kept shrieking and accused everyone and everything for the current state of the French society, Macron delivered a message of hope, unity and togetherness. Le Pen’s dark and grey manifestations were built around ideas of fight, anger, problems, while Macron’s colorful manifestations, with pop songs on the background, focused on solutions and inclusion.
In the end, the fight was between anti and pro-migrant policies, anti and pro-EU policies, anti and pro- inclusion and openness.
5. He had a better score than Marine Le Pen did, even if this alone would not have helped
An energetic and optimistic young man, founder of the En Marche (“On the move”) party, is theoretically more likeable than the daughter of the founder of the Front National (National Front) party, practicing the same far-right, EU-separation hate speech. There is also the issue of the National Front being linked to the four years of far-right rule during World War II, which people do not wish to go back to.
Marine Le Pen was neither helped by the numbers of very vocal protesters, constantly present at her rallies. Everything about her was giving out a vibe of destruction and destabilization. Even those who would, at least in theory, support some of the ideas such as the EU having become obsolete and unfavorable to the people in the West, the constant waves of immigrants gnawing at the national identity issue and the bill for taking in refugees, still feared what her election could mean overall. Even so, the rhetoric behind these concerns was not one to chase away the fears of some of the voters. Some even felt that in choosing Le Pen, they would have opted for a drastic measure that would ultimately do more harm than wrong.
6. The uncertainty surrounding the UK-EU divorce
When the results of the UK referendum came in, Le Pen almost did a small dance of joy as this was exactly the kind of thing she needed to nudge her co-nationals in the same direction. However, the instant regret, footage of people having voted without properly understanding what the vote was about, the fact that so many things said in the campaign turned out to be lies and the proof that the lives of people in the UK did not immediately change for the better, actually provided the French people with an enactment of the grim scenario. While Le Pen was hoping for a Frexit, uncertainty surrounding the Brexit, the decrease in value of the quid and the potential loss of EU advantages, like access to the European shared market, proved the opposite.
When Macron won, people were happy. They celebrated in the streets. And it was not only the French electorate who was relieved, but the entire world. A victory of Marine Le Pen would have opened the way for a lot of far-right parties to come to power. The EU is on shaky grounds, but people are willing to give it another try. The East is looking to the West for guidance, while the West of Europe is feeling the toll of this great responsibility. Either way, everybody is looking at Macron with faith in his capacity and his youthful energy.