Source: Global Times Published: 2017-5-8
Emmanuel Macron’s victory is good news for the EU, but it signals potential challenges ahead for US-French relations. Macron’s win meanwhile will see France stand closer with China due to their shared commitment to free trade, globalization, European integration and combating climate change.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won Sunday`s presidential runoff vote, defeating his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, according to polling agency projections issued after the vote.
An estimation by research firm Elabe conducted for BFMTV show that Macron won the presidential race with 65.9 percent of the vote, while Le Pen secured 34.1 percent. Other projections also indicate that Macron garnered between 65 to 66.1 percent of the vote, and Le Pen between 33.9 to 35 percent, according to Xinhua.
“Macron’s victory comes as no surprise. On the issue of the EU, France can’t act like the UK, because Brexit just means the EU has one fewer member, but if France leaves the EU then it will directly lead to the collapse of the whole union,” said Feng Zhongping, director of European studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
“France is a traditional land power of Europe and it cannot isolate itself from the continent,” so Le Pen’s far-right position which calls for France to quit the EU cannot win majority support, Wang Yiwei, senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday.
The victory has made the 39-year-old former economic minister the eighth president of the French Fifth Republic, and the youngest in history. In his first speech delivered after the win, Macron expressed "profound gratitude" to his voters, pledging to "calm fears" and "bring all of France together," Xinhua reported.
On Europe, Macron said he would work to rebuild links between the EU and its people. Moreover, he said France is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, both on its own soil and on the international stage.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to French President-elect Emmanuel Macron on Monday, according to Xinhua.
In his message, Xi said France was the first major Western country to have established diplomatic ties with China, adding that maintaining the steady and healthy development of the China-France relationship benefits not only the two countries, but also the stability and peaceful development of the world.
As for Sino-French relations, Macron will seek deeper cooperation with China since France cannot revive its economy on its own, said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations. Macron’s victory means France will remain on the side of Germany, while potentially distancing itself from US President Donald Trump who has failed to support a united Europe, globalization and the Paris climate agreement.
“This will also see France stand closer with China, because we firmly support European integration and free trade, and maintain our support for further globalization. Additionally, we will fulfill our promises on the issue of climate change,” Chu said.
Addressing the supporters of his far-right rival, Macron said he will do everything he can in the next five years to ensure that "they have no reason to vote for extreme parties." Le Pen delivered a speech to her supporters shortly after the release of the projections, conceding her defeat in the election and saying that "France has chosen continuity."
She congratulated Macron for winning the election, and wished him success in facing "immense coming challenges." Regarding the coming legislative elections, Le Pen pledged to "constitute a new political force," and called on "all patriots" to join her. Despite her defeat, Le Pen`s far-right National Front (FN) party managed to win a record level of support.
“Macron’s victory means continuity from Francois Hollande, but Le Pen’s far-right supporters will not disappear and French society will be polarized,” said Zheng Ruolin, an expert on French politics and social issues at Fudan University.
Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.