By Gregory Minton

Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election May 7 with a large consensus. The vote count is projected to be 66 percent to 33 percent in favor of Macron.

Le Pen’s populist message drew many comparisons to both the U.K.’s referendum to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election. During the campaign, she expressed interest in leaving the European Union. Macron, however, campaigned on a message to deepen ties with the EU.

Macron, a former investment banker with no prior political experience, founded the political party La République En Marche in April 2016. Le Pen’s party, National Front, is a far-right nationalist party. Both parties successfully defeated more established parties to face off in Sunday’s run-off election.

Some students at this university expressed relief about the election results.

“I’m pretty glad about the election. It’s the first major candidate I know of recently who’s had a populist message lose against a more moderate candidate,” said freshman Cole Molloy.

“I also read some of the reviews that said that leaving NATO and the EU would be bad. Both candidates fear mongered, but I think Le Pen did it more,” he said.

Freshman Nate Brockmeyer agreed. “It definitely went the way I wanted it to go. Around the world, there’s been a huge populist movement, and I feel like that rise of populism got Trump elected, and it definitely led to Brexit,” he said.

“They’re kind of racist,” Brockmeyer said of Le Pen supporters on campus. “They didn’t like the immigrant influx into France and figured she would stop it,” he said.

“She’s a racist just like her father. Her father hated Jews. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” he said in reference to her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has made controversial remarks about the Holocaust.

Students in France protested both Le Pen and Macron during the campaign.Police were on high alert for May Day protests against Le Pen, although student protesters also targeted Macron, according to The Guardian.

Professor Robert Koulish, a political scientist at this university, thought the race would be closer.

“I thought that Le Pen was probably going to get over 40 percent of the vote,” he said.

Koulish does not believe the election of Macron will change the U.S.relations with France. He also observed that Press Secretary Sean Spicer congratulated Macron on his victory in spite of President Trump’s prior endorsement of Le Pen.

“I think the administration would be foolish not to keep up our strong relationship with France,” he said.

Macron will assume the office of the presidency on May 14, 2017.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Gregory Minton is a junior journalism major and can be reached at

One response to “UMD Students Weigh in on French Election”

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