As I write this article, it’s still not clear who won the first round of French presidential elections: the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron or the xenophobic National Front leader Marine Le Pen. (Update: Macron and Le Pen will head to a runoff election, Macron having taken the majority of first-round votes, followed by Le Pen.)
It would not be a trivial difference because it would show whether the pressure-cooker atmosphere of endemic terrorism and Le Pen’s exploitation of the policeman killed on the Champs-Elysées has paid off in some way, affecting votes. What’s certain is that with voter participation of more than 80 percent, the wave of abstention was halted.
Meanwhile, just an hour and a half after the polls closed, a few events happened that may indicate the direction of the second round of voting scheduled for May 7.
The defeated François Fillon immediately announced his support for Macron “against those who are anti-system.” Mélenchon also spoke, thanking his supporters for the united vote that helped the left to earn almost 20 percent of the vote. But he did not give any instructions for the second round, saying “we do not have this authority.” However, he added significantly that “everyone knows in his or her heart what their own duty is.” The Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon only got 6-7 percent.