Yarrow for Washington Monthly: “Emmanuel Macron’s Victory Holds Hope for France, and Lessons for America”

While America succumbed to right-wing nationalism, France rejected it decisively. Democrats should pay attention.

Nearly 250 years ago, French ideas and French economic support enabled the success of the American Revolution. With the landslide election of Emmanuel Macron as president of France on Sunday, France could again point the way to a much-needed overhaul of U.S. politics.

Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old center-left newcomer to politics, decisively defeated Marine Le Pen of the ethnonationalist National Front party, 66 percent to 34 percent. Macron’s victory provides a crucial firewall against the right-wing nationalism that has convulsed the United States and the United Kingdom—at least temporarily protecting the future of the European Union—while reinvigorating the French economy, politics, and spirit.

A former investment banker and Minister of the Economy under outgoing President Francois Hollande, Macron is an outsider who formed his own party, En Marche! (On the Move) barely a year ago and is the first president in decades not affiliated with France’s two major parties: the Socialists and the Republicans. Endorsed by Barack Obama, Macron—like the former American president—could bring a certain hipness to France in a way that spurs pride, hope, and dynamism.

Macron and Le Pen prevailed as the top two vote-getters after the first round of voting two weeks ago, which had more than its share of drama and colorful characters. The four leading candidates included a witty former communist who campaigned using holograms, a Catholic conservative lawmaker who allegedly paid family members more than $1 million for fictional jobs and accepted gifts of two men’s suits worth $13,000, the blond daughter of a Holocaust denier who stoked hatred toward immigrants (Le Pen), and a baby-faced young intellectual who married his high-school teacher (Macron).

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