French election results: Macron defeats Le Pen to become President

mmanuel Macron will beat Marine Le Pen to become President of France, according to early estimates that predict that he has claimed 65.5 per cent of the votes in the French election.

Such a comfoTM_TELECARDS-LIVE-rtable Macron win would be in line with what polls have been saying for weeks, with most polls saying that the 39-year-old centrist would win with a lead of around 20 points.

This is after Macron won the first round of voting on 23 April with 23.8 per cent of the vote.

Over a quarter of French people were estimated to have abstained in the election, with large numbers of supporters for the conservative Francois Fillon and the far-Left Jean-Luc Mélenchon staying home on election day.

MarianoMacron and Le Pen both progressed from the first round in the race for the French presidency, after securing 45.3 per cent of the vote between them.

As the two two candidates, they were then pitted against each other again in the second round.

Of the nine elections since the Fifth Republic’s first direct presidential election in 1965, three have seen the winner of the first round lose out in the second. This led to the elections of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1974, François Mitterrand in 1981 and Jacques Chirac in 1995.

Macron was widely tipped to win before the vote. In the Telegraph’s poll tracker, the final polling average predicted that he would take 62 per cent of the vote in the second-round run-off against Le Pen.

It was expected that Macron – a centrist – would be able to attract a wider spectrum of second-round voters than Le Pen, pulling in left-leaning voters from Hamon and Mélenchon as well as those leaning to the right who voted Fillon in the first round.

The first round showcased an East-West divide in France

Marine Le Pen achieved her highest vote shares in the North East of France when she failed to make the second round in 2012.

It was no different this time around with there being a clear East-West divide in the way that the country voted on Sunday.

Le Pen attracted her highest vote share in the department of Aisne, to the North East of Paris. More than one in three votes went to the Front National leader in Aisne – double the number that went to Macron.

However, support for Le Pen within Paris was conspicuous by its absence. Fewer than one in 20 voters cast their ballots for the far-right leader. This is a lower proportion than who did so in 2012.

Three days on from a terror attack in the capital that claimed the life of a police officer, it makes Paris one of just four areas of the country where Front National support fell compared to 2012.

Macron scooped up 34.8 per cent of the vote in Paris, his strongest area of support.

Aside from in Paris, though, Macron’s vote share tended to be higher in the North western areas of France; areas like Ille et Vilaine and Finistere in Brittany.

Education and employment were driving factors

Polling prior to the election indicated that two of the biggest dividing factors between Macron and Le Pen supporters would be education and employment. And so it proved.

In much the same way that one of Donald Trump’s main pledges was to provide more jobs for Americans, Le Pen’s brand of nationalism also promised to boost the economic prospects of French citizens.

This cut through in 2012 and has done the trick again in 2017 with areas of low economic activity far more likely to vote for her than for Macron.

Similarities between the forces driving nationalism in the US and in France don’t stop there.

The second strongest demographic indicator for a strong Le Pen showing was for levels of education. Areas with high levels of low education were far more likely to plump for the Front National compared to other parties.

Although the correlation wasn’t as strong, population density was also a key indicator with Macron tending to win well in highly urban areas such as Paris and Bordeaux.

What were the polls saying?

The pollsters, which correctly predicted the results of the first round, all predicted a comfortable win for Macron in the second round.

They estimated he would take around 60 to 65 per cent of the vote in a second-round run-off against Le Pen.

Macron was widely expected to be able to build a broader voting base than anti-establishment Marine Le Pen. This is due to the fact that many of the first-round 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.

It meant that the result of the contest’s second round will be decided upon which way the 55 per cent whose candidate didn’t make it through choose to vote on May 7.

Polling conducted by Ifop at the end of last week suggests that Macron - a centrist – should benefit from this landscape. He should have been able to attract a wider spectrum of voters compared to Le Pen, pulling in left-leaning voters from Hamon and Mélenchon as well as those leaning to the right that voted Fillon in the first round.

Francois Fillon came third in Sunday’s first round with 19.9 per cent of the vote and pledged his support to Macron in his concession speech. The Ifop poll suggested that 42 per cent of Fillon supporters will heed their candidate’s advice but that 31 per cent would switch to Le Pen.

While 51 per cent of Mélenchon supporters said that they would switch to Macron in round two, just 12 per cent said they’d vote for Le Pen with the remaining 37 per cent preferring to abstain.

All this meant that Le Pen had a lot of persuading to do over the fortnight between the two votes.

Edouard Lecerf of the Kantar Public polling firm told The Telegraph: “Macron’s strength is that even if he isn’t the first choice for the 50 per cent of the first-round voters whose preferred candidates were eliminated in the first round, he is still seen as acceptable by many of them, whereas Marine Le Pen isn’t.”

How our poll tracker worked

Our poll tracker takes in national polls from OpinionWay, Ifop-Fiducial, Elabe, Harris and BVA Interactive. Their individual polls, while of different sample sizes, take in a representative sample. Their individual margin of errors vary from +/-0.8 per cent to +/-3.3 per cent.

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