On Sunday night, the Europe Union sighed a breath of relief at the results of the French general election. In a shocking result, the first independent party candidate, Emmanuel Macron, swept 66% of the votes - leaving populist and far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen with only 34%.
Though Macron was ahead in the polls in the days leading up the election, many voters were still skeptical. Was this yet another election to have an unexpected outcome and thereby, further impact the global political scene? If Le Pen had won the vote, the pressing question today would be: How much longer would the European Union and consequently, the Euro, exist? However, the focus is now on inclusivity and a stronger European Union -both politically and economically.
So, this is what we can learn from France’s election:
Macron proved to the world that you can run outside of traditional party lines, and yet you do not have to be populist. Macron was the first independent party to run in France. He built his own party without using the party system that has long been in place. And he won.
The move towards global governance is good. In a world that has seen many nationalistic patterns, especially within the last year, Macron demonstrated that it is possible to be both French and European.
Youth can be a positive attribute in the political realm. It can serve as a source for fresh, contemporary ideas that relate to a younger demographic. No longer does the world require an older generation to run it with frankly, outdated concepts and policies. Macron, 39, is France’s youngest President.
An inclusive world is a winning world. Due to its geopolitical position, France has become increasingly diverse. This is due to the refugee crisis that started in 2015 in addition to many other immigrants from North Africa and around the world migrating to France. Diversity can aid in building a new France, considering “Keeping France French” was a rather unconvincing claim and unattainable goal.
Media plays an important role in shaping people’s opinions, but perhaps a too dominant one when it comes to election coverage. The French law prohibits the media to cover the election going into the weekend of the election. Maybe this should be implemented around the world.
Although the elections in 2016 and 2017 have had huge impacts, all of them have had a relatively low voter turnout. The French election had the lowest voter turnout in 40 years with just 75% of able-voters partaking. From this, we gather that voting needs to be reshaped as something of extreme value, a privileged right.
Macron’s party knew that hacking and disinformation was going to play a role in the French election and he used it. He utilized social media, interviews and other platforms to speak about fake news. He condemned acts of spreading “fake news” and met it with real answers. His party banned Russian news platforms like RT and Sputnik from attending his events. He was even hacked 36 hours before the election, and his campaign confronted it.
Macron spoke to French voters and Le Pen, separately. During debates, Macron attacked only Le Pen - never her supporters. Instead, he spoke to all voters with candid facts.
The two-part election is unique and has many advantages. Voters are likely to be more engaged because they have more opportunities to partake and have their voices heard. Voters are able to vote twice, thereby narrowing down the candidates for the final election - an event that is also easily and immediately counted.
Although France has experienced several terrorist attacks, its decision of Macron over Le Pen concludes that acting out of fear and xenophobia, ultimately loses. The election of Macron is not just France’s but Europe’s message that understanding, inclusiveness and an openness to progressive ideas, is the future. Unity in diversity lives on - Vive La France!.
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