Trump Congratulates Macron, France’s Youngest President-Elect, on ‘Big Win’

By Patrick Goodenough | May 7, 2017 | 8:08 PM EDT

President-elect Emmanuel Macron prepares to address supporters in front of the Le Louvre museum in Paris on Sunday night. (Screengrab from TV footage)

( – President Trump joined other world leaders on Sunday congratulating Emmanuel Macron, after the former banker with no previous electoral office roundly defeated Marine le Pen, the far-right populist whose rise was seen by some as part of the same nationalist wave that brought Trump to power and saw Britons vote to leave the European Union.

“Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France,” tweeted Trump. “I look very much forward to working with him!”

At 39, Macron will become France’s youngest-ever president when he takes office next Sunday for a five-year term. The next youngest, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, was 40 when elected in the middle of the 19th century.

Macron, formerly identified with the more conservative wing of France’s Socialist party, left the party and launched a political movement last year which he said welcomes both those on the left and right.

He is described as a liberal free marketeer, and takes a generally pro-E.U. foreign policy stance, supporting German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open door” migration policy.

His victory, though consistently predicted in opinion polls, will come as a welcome relief to E.U. leaders and bureaucrats, given Le Pen’s campaign pledge to hold a referendum on exiting the union.

With Britain’s looming departure, France and Germany will be the E.U. strongest economies and military powers, and France the only E.U. member to hold a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Anti-E.U., pro-sovereignty sentiment is running high in France: While Macron beat Le Pen in Sunday’s run-off by a large margin – 65.8 points to 34.2 in unofficial results – Le Pen and two other euroskeptic candidates, one on the right and one on the far-left, together garnered more than 45 percent of the total votes in the first round of voting.

The 2017 election was the first in decades in which both main strands of French politics – the Socialists and the center-right whose latest incarnation is the Républicains – were defeated in the first round of voting.

With President Francois Hollande, a Socialist, choosing not to run again, his party put up a candidate, former education minister Benoit Hamon, who obtained just 6.3 percent of the votes in the first round, while another left-winger, Jean-Luc Mélenchon took 19.58 percent.

On the right, the Républicains’ primary process ended with former prime minister François Fillon as the flagbearer, but he finished third in the first round, almost half a million votes behind Le Pen.

Another interesting feature about Sunday’s run-off was the high number of spoilt ballots, projected at more than four million, and a large abstention rate, estimated at around 26 percent of eligible voters – an indication that many voters may have been unhappy with both runoff candidates.  (In the first round, about 22 percent did not vote, and about 660,000 votes were left blank.)

On Friday, Macron’s campaign reported that it had suffered a massive email hack, and automated accounts (bots) appeared to be responsible for flooding social media with messages about the supposed hacked material.

France’s national campaign monitoring body on Saturday warned that anyone spreading supposedly hacked material on the eve of the election would be committing a crime.

“The dissemination of such data, which has been fraudulently obtained and in all likelihood may have been mingled with false information, is liable to be classified as a criminal offence,” it said.

From midnight on Friday, election rules imposed a blackout on candidates and campaigns, so neither the Macron nor Le Pen camps were able to respond publicly to the development.

In a Twitter post hailing the French election outcome, Hillary Clinton alluded to the hacking and leaking of emails from the account of her 2016 campaign boss John Podesta, and took a swipe at the media.

“Victory for Macron, for France, the EU, & the world. Defeat to those interfering w/democracy. (But the media says I can't talk about that),” Clinton tweeted.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow