‘As a French woman who cannot stand Macron and despises Le Pen, I’m staying away from the news. It’s a nightmare. I’ll cry when I vote Macron,’ said Nana yesterday, one of millions of voters preparing to cast her ballot for Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election.
This is how Macron was re-elected president of France on Sunday. By voters holding their noses.
The result was confirmed as the polls closed. The polling companies were unanimously forecasting a Macron win of between 54 and 58 per cent of the votes.
A convincing victory and one which marks the end of Marine Le Pen. This has been her third failed attempt at the presidency.
Few here greeted the results with enthusiasm. Weary resignation characterised the general mood.
Few in France greeted the results of Emmanuel Macron’s win with enthusiasm. Weary resignation characterised the general mood
Marine Le Pen gestures at the Pavillon d’Armenonville after her defeat in the second round of the 2022 French presidential election
The re-election of Macron is not good news for France – which faces five more years of his eccentric, egocentric politics – nor for Britain and Boris Johnson, who is seen as the Brexit devil incarnate by the Paris political establishment, including in particular the tight circle surrounding the president himself.
Johnson has so far stoically put up with Macron’s tantrums, insults and his hard lines over the EU withdrawal agreement.
The Prime Minister can surely no longer be under the illusion that Macron is his ‘friend’.
For the European Union itself, the French election is the least worst result. A Le Pen victory would have been a disaster.
Her promise to make French law supreme to EU law would have amounted to a Frexit.
Macron talks of a deeper, stronger EU (led by him) but the Europe he imagines is a fantasy.
The days when the Germans and French called all the shots are finished.
Europe has moved on – split asunder by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with Poles and eastern Europeans in one camp and the French in another.
It’s a curiosity of the French political system that a greatly disliked politician rejected by 72 per cent of voters in the first round has held on to his job, despite his previous five-year term characterised by rising crime and civil disorder, incomplete and abandoned economic and social reforms, an often incoherent and absurd Covid policy, as well as innumerable scandals and unanswered questions.
Macron has a talent for talking too much, listening too little.
Even if it’s true that the French like a bit of arrogance in their presidents, Macron’s utter lack of humility is grating.
He’s incapable of empathy with ordinary French people. Yet he adores posing for photographs. His arrogance is likely to be reinforced by his victory.
The re-election of Macron is not good news for Boris Johnson, who is seen as the Brexit devil incarnate by the Paris political establishment, including in particular the tight circle surrounding the president himself
His re-election isn’t a democratic endorsement of a respected leader, but the product of an electoral system guaranteed to ignore what people really want and instead impose on them a choice likened by some here as between plague and cholera.
As if to add insult to this farcical election, it was an exact re-run of the previous presidential election in 2017, in which Macron beat Le Pen by 66 per cent to 34 per cent.
Le Pen closed the gap, but still was unable to seriously dent an incumbent who is widely distrusted and unloved.
All the problems facing France, unresolved or made worse in Macron’s first term, are still present.
Macron is again at the helm, facing a cluster of colossal crises including war in Europe, restless cities, skyrocketing inflation and collapsing public services.
There are those who say that despite all these problems, France remains a paradise.
And it’s true that the France most British tourists see on holiday can be delightful.
But for millions of people, la vie en rose, washed down with an agreeable rosé and some olives, is not the way it is.
The terrible position in which France now finds itself is partly of Macron’s own making.
Now that Angela Merkel has finally left the stage, the French president considers himself ex officio the uncontested leader of the EU.
But German allies have turned out to be faithless and wholly dependent on Russian energy. The European defence force is a joke, a paper tiger when confronted with Russian aggression. It’s not the French or the Germans who are helping Ukraine but the Poles, Czechs, Balts, plus Americans and Brits who are not even in the EU.
Macron might imagine he is the ringmaster of this circus.
Supporters of Marine Le Pen were seen in tears shortly after the exit polls predicted a win for Emmanuel Macron
A supporter of French President Emmanuel Macron holds a placard reading ‘Emmanuel Macron With You’ and others wave flags as they watch the first election projections being announced in Paris
He’s more of a clown – which, incidentally, is an insult he levelled at Boris Johnson.
Macron and the team around him are viscerally anti-British.
They have imposed an EU withdrawal agreement on Brexit Britain that is a time bomb for future conflict.
Instead of accepting Britain as a friend on independent terms, for the benefit of both sides, Macron insisted on aggressive punishment of the Brits for their insolence in leaving his beloved European Union.
France and Britain have the closest imaginable commercial and social connections.
Macron and his men have ignored this and picked fights even as he has annoyed his supposed allies in Europe.
In France, the misery will now continue as the exhausted electorate is invited to vote again in June elections for the National Assembly.
At which point, Macron will have to stitch together some kind of government with a parliamentary majority that is unlikely to be stable or durable.
Vive la France? There’s trouble ahead.
- Jonathan Miller is author of France, a Nation on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Gibson Square).