French polling agencies are projecting that Emmanuel Macron has won the presidency of France with “65 percent of votes” to 35 percent for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, ABC News is reporting.
The Wall Street Journal confirmed, “Macron has gained 65.5% of the vote, projections show, capping a meteoric rise for the pro-EU centrist. Marine Le Pen gained 34.5%, according to Kantar-Sofres.”
Le Pen has called Macron to concede defeat, describing a fight between “between the patriots and the globalists” and calling for “a profound transformation of our party to build a new political force,” Politico reports.
The election was pitched as a potential replay of the narratives in the American presidential contest in which a right-wing immigration-focused anti-EU candidate attempts to run against a 39-year-old political insider by capturing angst over terrorist attacks and economic instability. There were even allegations in France that Macron-related emails were hacked, and Le Pen has barred some prominent media from her election night event. In America, of course, the polls proved to be woefully wrong, and Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.
However, in France, Macron was able to overcome a drop in turnout, largely because he went into the election with a substantial polling lead as supporters of the defeated candidates from the earlier runoff consolidated around him. A former member of the Socialist Party, he declared himself an independent and created a new party that he said drew from both left and right. It’s called “En Marche!,” which means “Forward” in English. He also saw a polling uptick as a result of his performance in a final debate with Le Pen, who was saddled with the history of her father’s incendiary history on the far right, even though she’d denounced him.
The polls in France closed at 2 p.m. EST in the United States, but there were also early signs that boded well for centrist candidate Macron.
The Telegraph reports that exit polls predicted a Macron victory: “Emmanuel Macron has beaten Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s French election and taken more than 60 per cent of the vote, according to several early exit polls. Polling conducted by Ipsos, Ifop and BVA all gave Mr Macron, the pro-business candidate, a strong lead over Front National leader Marine Le Pen.”
According to UK Telegraph, “Belgian media have published polling data which predicts 60 percent of the vote has gone to Macron. Voter turnout has dropped to just 60 percent, compared to 2012’s turnout of 70 percent.” However, Politico cautions, “Le Soir, a Belgian daily, published exit polls provided by ‘good sources’ that predict tonight’s victor. The French media and pollsters aren’t taking them too seriously.”
However, political and media observers didn’t believe the 7 percent turnout drop as of 5 p.m. French time was enough to boost Le Pen into the presidency and counteract Macron’s massive lead in the polls. Ipso was projecting that “26 percent of the electorate will not go to the polls. In other words, it expects a 74 percent turnout — the worst since 1969.”
Here’s a chart showing turnout compared to historic figures in France:
Due to Macron’s sizeable polling lead, observers believed that far-right candidate Le Pen would need a lot of people to stay home or abstain to have a chance. (The polls closed at 8 p.m. in big cities in France, and closed at 7 p.m. throughout the rest of the country). According to CNN, France generally announces election results immediately at that time.
Three hours before the polls closed in France, “turnout was 65.3 per cent – lower than in the first round of voting. It’s also lower than 2012’s second round of voting which was around 70%.”
France24 is streaming live on the election in English. Politico also has a stream of live election results.
“By midday, 28.23% of registered voters had cast their ballots, Interior Ministry figures show,” CNN reported. “That figure is likely to allay fears in Macron’s camp, as a high abstention rate would likely hit him harder than Le Pen, according to analysts.”
Approaching noon on the United States’ East Coast, The Wall Street Journal reported: “The latest turnout figures show that 65.3% of the electorate have voted so far. In 2012, at the same point, 71.96% of those eligible to vote had cast their ballots by now… polling company Ipsos Sopra-Steria estimates that the final level of abstention will be 26%, the highest since the presidential election of 1969.”
The election results revolved around the question of how much lower.
The Wall Street Journal reports, “According to surveys, Ms. Le Pen has 40% of voting intentions and Mr. Macron 60%.” That’s why turnout could be decisive.
Serge Galam, a physics professor in Paris, told The Wall Street Journal that “if polls showed 58% of voting intentions for Mr. Macron, Ms. Le Pen could win if turnout among her rival’s supporters fell to 65% and her’s stood at 90%. If voting intentions for Mr. Macron were at 56%, he would need a 70.71% turnout to defeat Ms. Le Pen, so long as her turnout still stood at 90%.”
There are key differences between the French and American contests. Most experts argued it would take a miracle – or a polling error of historic dimensions – for Le Pen to prevail, despite the recent terrorist attacks that have rocked France.
According to a FiveThirtyEight analysis, Trump “was just a normal polling error behind Hillary Clinton on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. The far-right National Front candidate in France, Marine Le Pen, by contrast, is an enormous, historic polling error behind the centrist En Marche! candidate Emmanuel Macron.”
Macron had 24% to Le Pen’s 21% in a crowded field in the primary runoff. According to The Telegraph, “supporters of conservative François Fillon and far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who collectively attracted 39.5 per cent of the vote, are expected to now switch to Macron.”
The polls for the May 7 presidential election showed him with a whopping lead. According to FiveThirtyEight, “In an average of surveys conducted over the last two weeks, Macron has earned 61 percent to Le Pen’s 39 percent.”
Most critically, Macron was much farther ahead in the polls against Le Pen than Hillary Clinton led Trump. Polling showed Macron’s lead grew after a contentious final debate with Le Pen, Politico reports.
Experts were giving Macron a 94% chance of winning (of course, they said that about Clinton too.)
Le Pen has inherited a controversial legacy. Her father, Jean Marie Le Pen – whom she has denounced and ousted from the National Front party she now leads – is notorious for his comments about the Holocaust, which he called a “detail” of history.
This article will be updated throughout the day.
Read more about Macron’s political positions here: