France has made its choice: Emmanuel Macron is the new French president-elect. The 39-year-old centrist soundly beat out Marine Le Pen from the far-right National Front party, assembling 66 percent of all votes.
French and European citizens wave France's national flags and Europe's flags to celebrate the defeat of the French far-right National Front party after the second round of the French presidential election during a rally in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero Plaza, in Paris, on May 8. Photo: CFPMacron launched his political movement "En marche!" from scratch less than a year ago, with progressive views on business, innovation and the EU appealing more to the French populous than Le Pen's isolationist platform, which has once again fallen out of favor throughout the world following Trump's embarrassing first 100 days in office.
Domestic and international media that had previously mentioned Macron's name only when in connection to the juicy fact that he married his former teacher, who is 25 years his senior, begrudgingly congratulated Macron for his victory.
But how do expats in Shanghai view the political situation in France? Do they side with Macron or Le Pen? And how many have had a crush on their teacher?
The Global Times recently hit the streets of Shanghai to trace the international sentiment toward the French elections.
French national Tanguy Fourchon (pictured below) expressed surprise about the fact that the two candidates were both not part of the political establishment. "I guess it was a bit unexpected," he said, adding that he voted for Macron because Le Pen was too extreme for him.
Fourchon's friend, Guilhem Laurent (pictured below), cringes at the thought of the election. "It was a tough choice. Le Pen's views were way too extremist. Macron is the new guy, but he is just like the previous president, François Hollande," he said. Laurent still supports Macron even though he doesn't believe that he will bring much change.
Chinese national Shen Shuping (pictured below) was excited about this election. "France is a very open country where just about anyone can become president," she said.
Dutch nationals Cathinka Jacobs (pictured below left) and Mirjam Biekens, however, think that Macron is "the best of the worst."
British expat Chelsea White (pictured below) was concerned about a populist wave spreading across Europe and, therefore, opposed Le Pen. "Macron is young; he's pretty balanced, and I think he is trying to reach out to all parts of the French population and not just one," she said.
American Adam Midgett (pictured below) believed that Le Pen represented the same ideas that Trump stands for: isolationism and anti-immigration. "If I were French, I would not support Le Pen. I am from the US; I hate Donald Trump."
According to Midgett, it is in the best interest of France to stay in the EU and not withdraw, as Le Pen suggested. "That would be the end of the EU."
British Joseph Macauley (pictured below left) likewise sees the bigger picture of the election. "Elections, especially in Europe these days, are not just about one country. They're about the future of Europe as an entity."
British Chris Williams (pictured below) thinks that the French election was decisive and segregated, similar to the recent US presidential elections. He believes that Macron "is better for the world, but not necessarily for France."
American Tom Pinkham (pictured below) supports Macron's pro-business stance. "France and many other countries are getting so socialistic that I don't think their economies can support it forever."
Photos: Global TimesIs gender enough?
Women are still underrepresented in global politics. Some say a female president for France might have advanced gender equality in the political realm. Shen Shuping thus would have liked to support Le Pen simply based on her gender. "Women in politics is still a rather sensitive topic," she said.
In contrast, many expats interviewed by the Global Times said they are not willing to trade their political beliefs just for gender equality. "It's good to have a female leader, but not Le Pen," Laurent said firmly.
Fourchon agrees. "A female president could be great, but Le Pen didn't have good ideas." Macauley shares a similar view. "It's good for women to be represented, but in the UK we have a female leader and currently she is not speaking in the best interest of the people."
White thinks that gender equality should be promoted, but not by all means. "The more women that break that glass ceiling, the better. I believe it is good to provide role models for women and girls around the world. But you have to look at their policies and whether it's in line with what you believe."
Midgett would agree to that. "The ideals that Le Pen stood for are scary to think about. Even though she's a woman, she should not be leading the country."
Jacobs and Biekens compare Le Pen to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "Merkel is more social, more open to people, more hands-on, more practical." They feel that the ideals Le Pen stood for were not tangible enough for people to support.
Hot for teacher
The juicy story of Macron marrying his former high school teacher, who is 25 years older than him, created a buzz in the media during the election campaign. Shen explained that, for Chinese, this was an astonishing revelation.
"How can it be that this guy married his teacher and still becomes president?" she asked. "That makes me like him even more!" Williams said smilingly.
"I'm really happy that the two of them managed to work it out," White said, adding that she would not personally engage in such a relationship. "I tend to think that age gaps are not good for relationships."
Laurent does not agree. "If I were in love with her, I would marry a woman who's 25 years older than me," he said. Not so for Midgett, who has never been attracted to older women. "That's a little bit strange, but if you're in love, you're in love."
Pinkham's wife is 25 years younger than himself, "so I don't worry about the age gap." Macauley said that, in his all-boys' school, it was quite common to fantasize about female teachers. "But no teacher ever caught my eye," he disclaimed.
Jacobs and Biekens, who are former classmates, admitted that they had crushes on their high school teachers when they were younger. "We had nice, young teachers," they said with a nostalgic smile. "I think love is good in any way, shape or form," they agreed.
Le Pen's boyfriend announced during the campaign that, if she became president, he would not be willing to play the role of 'first lady.'
But among the male expats the Global Times interviewed, most said they didn't have a problem with this role reversal. "We've come to an age now where gender roles like that shouldn't even be an issue," Midgett said.
This article was written by Katrin Büchenbacher