French and world media focused tightly on the first round of France’s presidential election this evening local time as polls showed independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and extreme right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen advancing to the second round. In a historic result that does not include the country’s major political parties, the two will now go head-to-head in a runoff election on May 7 to determine France’s next leader, possibly impacting its position within the EU and the media business at home.
Back in November, Le Pen, who has run on an anti-immigration, anti-EU platform, was the first international politician to publicly offer her congratulations to then President-elect Donald Trump. More recently, she leveled rare criticism at Trump after the U.S. President ordered airstrikes on Syria in early April. POTUS has thus far not chimed in on tonight’s result other than to call the election “very interesting” several hours before the first projections were released.
National networks and French and international 24-hour news channels blanketed coverage throughout the late afternoon and well into the night as the polls closed and as defeated candidates threw their weight largely behind Macron. That included the Socialist Party’s Benoît Hamon and the right’s François Fillon who urged supporters to avoid a final election result that would hand power to Le Pen. “There is no other choice than to vote against the far right,” Fillon said. French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called on the nation to vote for Macron and thwart the National Front’s “disastrous project of the regression of France and division of the French people.”
This is the first time since the post-war period that the traditional left and right French parties did not advance to the second round. Brazilian daily Folha called the result, “almost a new French Revolution” while The Daily Mail just went ahead and declared it a “New French Revolution.”
Italy’s Corriere Della Sera said the great traditional parties are “finished.” In an editorial, The Guardian called the outcome “a win for Macron and hope.” Noting the 1789 storming of the Bastille set a high bar, it said, “few phrases should be used with more circumspection than ‘French revolution.’ But the result of the first round of France’s 2017 presidential election is an epochal political upheaval for France all the same.”
Protests erupted tonight at Paris’ Place de la Bastille where police fired tear gas on demonstrators following the announcement of the projected results. According to reports, the crowds of young people included some from anarchist and anti-fascist groups protesting Le Pen’s showing and her hardline policies.
“Let’s measure the rupture,” Libération wrote in an editorial….