Emmanuel Macron defeats Marine Le Pen in French election – but far-right threat remains

Emmanuel Macron celebrates his re-election

Emmanuel Macron has again defeated Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential race, to the relief of the LGBT+ community.

On Sunday (24 April) Macron became the first French leader to be re-elected in two decades, taking 58.54 per cent of the vote to Le Pen’s 41.46 per cent and securing his place in the Elysée for another five years.

The country’s LGBT+ community breathed a sigh of relief that it had avoided the dystopian possibility of a Le Pen premiership, but fears for the future remain.

The election marks the closest that France’s far-right has come to taking power and protests broke out across the country after the result was announced, confirming large-scale public support for Le Pen.

The National Rally (previously National Front) candidate has ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Victor Orbán and has opposed, among other things, marriage equality, same-sex adoption and same-sex surrogacy.

Macron’s victory can be attributed in large part to voters’ commitment to blocking Le Pen, rather than support for Macron himself.

Jérémie Peltier, director of socialist think tank the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, told FranceInfo: “The fear and hatred of the far right is still stronger than the hatred that Emmanuel Macron could inspire in certain people.”

Macron addressed the issue at his victory rally on Sunday, telling the crowd: “I know that a number of French people have voted for me today, not to support my ideas but to stop the ideas of the far right… I’m not the candidate of one camp any more, but the president of all of us.”

But Le Pen’s fight is far from over, as France now focuses on the parliamentary elections in June, sometimes referred to as the “third round” of the presidential election.

Usually, president-elects can be sure of securing the 289 out of 577 National Assembly seats required for a parliamentary majority, but Macron may struggle to convince divided voters.

While Le Pen is intent on creating a strong parliamentary opposition, socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, defeated in the first round of the presidential elections, has his sights set on uniting the left and becoming prime minister.

“Tonight we launch the great battle of the legislative elections,” Le Pen said on Sunday.

“I will lead this battle alongside [acting president of the National Rally] Jordan Bardella, with all those who had the courage to oppose Emmanuel Macron in the second round, with all those who have France at heart.”