Emmanuel Macron was victorious in the French Presidentielles last night by a margin of 2:1 over far right candidate Marine Le Pen. My department of the Vaucluse voted 53.5% for Macron, but he won 71.4% of the votes in our commune of Lacoste. It was welcome news in the face of gains by the extreme right represented elsewhere by Donald Trump, Theresa May, Malcolm Turnbull and the appalling Binyamin Netanyahu. If you don’t think they are extremists then take a closer look at their policies on refugees, healthcare, privatisation, the environment and taxation. And pay special attention to who supports them, who benefits, where the money comes from and the influence of the religious right. It has been fun reading the right-wing British Brexit press trying to manufacture some good news from defeat, while the Daily Mail could not even include it on their front page. Fortunately the French media are significantly more level-headed and balanced, and French voters generally seem much better educated and thoughtful about their voting responsibilities.
But this French election has still shaken the establishment. The two principal parties of right and left are in disarray, having failed to reach the final run-off. Many of those who supported Macron did so principally to frustrate the nationalism, racism and negativity of Le Pen. Equally many stayed away, unable to bring themselves to vote for a perceived establishment banker. Macron formed his new political movement En Marche! only a year ago, it has no seats in the legislative assembly, a limited party structure and is short on funds. Next elections for the 577 seats in the legislative assembly are in June, only five weeks away, barely time for En Marche! to put together an effective vote-winning campaign against the established parties, leaving Macron to face a potentially hostile assembly. Our new president will need exceptional skills to bring together a polarised electorate and overcome establishment resistance if he is to achieve worthwhile change.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”Desmond Tutu