Macron wins election but France’s far right has garnered record support

In an address to her supporters in Paris on Sunday night, Le Pen conceded defeat but said: “We still won.”

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French President Emmanuel Macron may have just won a second term, but political analysts believe the continued rise of the far right will be a major headache for him in the years to come.

“The actual closeness, the relative closeness of the vote and the fact that [Marine] Le Pen has reached over 40%, I think that’s a damning indictment of the state of French politics and maybe even the state of inequality and living standards across Europe,” said Julian Howard, head of multi-asset solutions at the Asset management firm GAM, told CNBC “Squawk Box Europe” Monday.

Centrist Macron received 58.54% of the vote on Sunday, while his nationalist and far-right rival Le Pen received 41.46%. Back in 2017, when the two politicians also fought in the second round of the French presidential election, Macron won with 66.1% compared to Le Pen with 33.9%.

In an address to her supporters in Paris on Sunday night, Le Pen conceded defeat but said: “We still won.”

“The ideas we represent are reaching a climax,” she added, noting that her party – National Rally – will be a “true opposition” to Macron and the French political establishment in the upcoming general election in June.

In France, the president is the highest figure in the state, but the upcoming general elections to the National Assembly will show whether Macron will be able to pass new laws with ease, or whether he will face stiff obstacles to push his economic and EU push through friendly agenda .

One of the challenges for his second term, as Macron explained on Sunday, is the unification of France.

change in tone

Le Pen’s results “including a majority of working-class voters and victories in many rural and suburban districts illustrate the deep divisions in French society that will make Macron’s second term as uneasy as the first,” said Mujtaba Rahman, executive director of the consultancy Eurasia Group said in a note Sunday.

Le Pen’s performance in the 2022 election benefited from a shift in tone from the far-right leader. Political analysts have noted that this time she became more dovish, avoiding focusing on immigration or protesting European integration. Instead, Le Pen preferred to talk about rising inflation and the weakening purchasing power of French citizens.

“We shouldn’t ignore the increase in their share of the vote; it shows that their efforts to normalize their party and their politics are working,” Jessica Hinds, an economist at Capital Economics, told CNBC via email on Monday.

A weak scorecard

Sunday’s vote marked the third consecutive time Le Pen failed to become President of France.

After taking over the leadership of the party from her father in 2011, then called Front National, she ran for top positions in 2012, 2017 and now 2022. In both 2017 and this year, she reached the second and final round of the French presidential elections.

Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, shocked many when he made it to the second round of the French presidential election in 2002; but was defeated by incumbent Jacques Chirac in a landslide vote. Jean-Marie Le Pen received 17.8% of the votes that year.

“Le Pen will still find it difficult to survive the next five years as the main flag-bearer of the French far-right. She and her party, the National Rally, will now face a renewed challenge from Eric Zemmour and her own niece, Marion Maréchal,” Rahman said in the same note.

Eric Zemmour, also an anti-immigrant and far-right politician, was one of the many new names on the French political scene ahead of this year’s elections. His performance in the first round of the 2022 vote was weaker than pollsters initially estimated, with some analysts pointing to his more aggressive stance — particularly towards Ukrainian refugees — as one of the reasons.

Marion Maréchal, Le Pen’s niece, spoke out in favor of Zemmour during this campaign.

“In relation to [the next presidential election in] In 2027 the rules say Macron can no longer run and neither can Le Pen, although she has refused to rule out a fourth attempt,” Hinds said.

“So a lot could be different in the next election, five years is a long time,” she added. Macron wins election but France’s far right has garnered record support

Chrissy Callahan

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