UPDATED with Emmanuel Macron comments: With an estimated 65.1% of the vote, 39-year-old former investment banker and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron will be the youngest president of France. After a contentious election that saw the first runoff between candidates from parties other than the traditional left and right, the independent centrist Macron defeated extreme right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. France was glued to the television today, holding its breath until the results were announced at precisely 8PM local time. About an hour and a half later, U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in with his congratulations:
(Scroll down to see more reactions from other world leaders, Hollywood and European industry folk)
Throughout the afternoon and evening, French media blanketed coverage with major networks following live — although M6 switched to a Pirates Of The Caribbean movie at 9PM. International 24-hour news nets also went deep.
Macron spoke at a little after 10PM local time, standing in front of the Pyramide du Louvre with thousands of supporters gathered on the esplanade that faces it and backing into the Jardin des Tuileries. He walked to the stage alone, with no bodyguards, to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” — the anthem of the European Union of which he is a supporter. The same music was used by François Mitterrand for his first victory celebration. The Louvre Pyramide too was commissioned by Mitterand.
Thanking his supporters, Macron noted more than once that the task ahead is “immense” and will involve reinforcing the economy and ensuring the safety of all French citizens. “We will not give in to fear, to division, to lies, to a love of decline or defeat,” he said to a fractured French republic. He also had a word for those who voted Le Pen, saying he understands their fear and anger and that he will do all he can to ensure they have no further reason to vote for extremism. Tonight, he said, “it is Europe and the world who are watching us.”
Le Pen had earlier and immediately taken the stage from her election night HQ in the Bois de Vincennes. Notably, she said she is planning to overhaul the National Front party and lamented that France had chosen “continuity” in voting Macron.
Earlier in the day, France’s paper of record, Le Monde, said it would join a boycott against the National Front’s election evening event. The party had said it would exclude some French and international media, an attitude Le Monde “forcefully” condemned for not allowing “proper coverage of a major democratic moment” and demonstrating “a poor interpretation of press freedom.”
The paper wrote, “In solidarity with the media concerned, we have decided we will not be present at this election evening event. This decision will not prevent us from covering the National Front to the same journalistic standards.”
After the first round election two weeks ago, world media declared the result that knocked out the main parties a “new revolution.” A one-on-one televised debate this past week, which took a nip out of box office that night, did not serve the anti-immigration, anti-Europe Le Pen. Amid bursts of snarling, sarcastic laughter, she was on the attack towards Macron without ever really digging into policy proposals.
Legislative elections will be held next month with Macron hoping to increase his party’s representation. Down the line, he will likely look to offload the French state’s stake in Orange — potentially launching a burst of media and telecom M&A. A fully privatized Orange would be able to use its equity freely to pursue consolidation and acquisitions and that could reshape the French media and telecom corporate landscape.
Macron has said he would reduce the number of public TV channels and simplify audiovisual regulations. There is a planned reflection on the hotly-contested windowing system. SVOD players have to wait 36 months after theatrical release to access films — this is part of the upset currently facing the Cannes Film Festival after it included two Netflix movies in Official Selection. Also potentially on deck is a rethink of rules that prevent movies from being advertised on television. Further, digital players like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon may be subject to new regulations regarding taxation at the European level.
Enders Analysis has said it would expect a Macron administration “to demonstrate more independence than its predecessors in the face of a powerful cultural industries lobby.” Macron is committed to a full review of French cultural policies which could result in “a shake-up of the tight regulation of television that diverts content investment into the politically connected film industry to the detriment of other scripted video content.” Broadcasters have long been obliged to invest a percentage of their annual revenue back into the movie business.
Also, the pro-Europe Macron’s win is expected to lend itself to a more self-confident EU which will be in better position to consider long-term issues and to propose a reasonable (as opposed to a vindictive) deal to UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit.
Had the election today gone a different way, it would have cast a dark shadow over the Cannes Film Festival which unspools 10 days from now. The creative community has been strongly anti-Le Pen, even if the industry only came out vocally in the past several days. Orgs like writers/directors/producers association l’ARP and the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma threw their weight behind Macron recently. French filmmaker Luc Besson penned an anti-Le Pen screed a little over a week ago while director Marjane Satrapi wrote in Libération on May 2, “Vote with gloves on, but vote!” a reference to fears that abstention would work in Le Pen’s favor. Ultimately, this was the lowest voter turnout in the past several elections.
World leaders have congratulated Macron, including May who is navigating the UK’s exit from Europe. A Downing Street spokesperson said, “The prime minister warmly congratulates President-elect Macron on his election success. France is one of our closest allies and we look forward to working with the new president on a wide range of shared priorities.”
Angela Merkel’s spokesperson likewise offered congrats:
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
Hillary and Bill Clinton:
And, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council added:
French and international film and TV personalities are also chiming in: