Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old centrist politician, has won a resounding victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the final round of the French presidential election, garnering 66 percent of the vote. Macron's victory was immediately applauded by European politicians and mainstream media.
Macron's victory will spark a reshuffling of France's political landscape. Neither of the two final candidates came from dominant establishments. They are viewed as dark horses, and their emergence was a surprise to many. Their main differences are more to do with Macron's political ideas, ones that are relatively close to the mainstream political values of France and Europe, unlike Le Pen.
Macron's victory provides significant relief to the EU. It will stabilize Europe's political structure, and help the EU to stop "bleeding" since the Brexit vote. France's election result was so crucial to the EU that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she had a "preference" for Macron. France and Germany are the "dual engines" that help drive the EU forward. Had Le Pen, a stout opponent of the EU and globalization, been elected, it would have impacted the EU in a largely negative way, more so than Brexit.
Macron was able to defeat populist ideals in an unconventional way by remaining free from older political establishments. If US President Donald Trump's election was a victory for populism, then Macron's defeat of Le Pen will have a far-reaching significance that influences the world.
It may be too early to conclude that today's peak of populism in world politics is beginning to wane. However, although Trump is considered a populist, he only enjoys limited presidential power under the US system of checks and balances. Many of his policies, especially foreign policies, have returned to conventional tracks in line with America's established traditions. In France, Le Pen, nicknamed the "French Trump," was decisively defeated by Macron, a political novice.
Many may praise Macron's victory as an example of how the French can have a positive and inspirational impact upon the world. When we look back on this election, we may find that France made a wise choice for human civilization in helping to keep it moving forward at such a crucial time, rather than setting it back.
Certainly, populism in Europe will survive the Le Pen defeat. The pro-EU camp cannot afford to lose any of the upcoming elections in Europe.
Although Le Pen was defeated in a largely liberal France, she still received 34 percent of the votes. Populism can easily rise among those who do not feel there are advantages to be gained through globalization. Politicians or groups will still take advantage of public sentiment, and turn those feelings into a movement that challenges globalization on a national or international scale.
France and Europe remain at a critical juncture and the France that has claimed a Macron victory is still divided. Although the rational prospects that have unfolded are very clear, ambiguities still remain a reality for Europe.
Let us wish France and Europe the best of luck. Whenever there is chaos in that part of the world, its devastating impact shall be felt throughout the rest of the planet. Creating a community of shared future for all mankind is not an empty slogan.