9th May 2017
Former government minister Emmanuel Macron, who ran on a centrist platform, has been declared the next French President, following an incredibly volatile election campaigns France. Macron won nearly two thirds of the vote (66.1 per cent) compare to Le Pen (33.9 per cent). Macron’s opponent, Marine Le Pen, has conceded defeat but she promises to rebrand the National Front and adopt the mantle of France’s new opposition leader.
The 2017 French Presidential Election has the unique distinction of being the first vote in the life of the Fifth Republic (since 1958) in which neither the established Socialist Party nor the Republican Party managed to enter the second round. Mr Macron’s victory in the second round comes as a relief to the proponents of the European project. For the duration of the campaign, his opponent, Marine Le Pen, ran on a radical platform that included policies such as holding a referendum over France’s membership of the Euro and the European Union. A Le Pen Presidency is likely to have led to an adverse reaction similar to that following the UK’s EU referendum in 2016 in a number of ways. In contrast, Macron is set to be more of a status-quo President, although he has expressed a desire to reform aspects of the European Project, and intends to enforce liberal reforms of the French labour market. This is significant, given that France has endured decades of high unemployment, partly owing to globalisation. France has experienced significant unrest in the past. Large-scale protests took place on multiple occasions in 2016 against reforms to labour laws. Tens of thousands participated in action that disrupted public transport. The protests included a series of strikes, resulting in the closure of venues including the Eiffel Tower and ended with over 100 arrests. Following this election, anti-capitalist protests have been taking place in the centre of Paris and further unrest has the potential to disrupt travel, possibly through strike action.
Mr Macron will inherit the Presidency in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of over two hundred people, including an attack in Nice on Bastille Day in 2016 and Paris in November 2015. Macron’s first year in office will be shaped by how responsive his administration can be to such threats. The country remains in a state of emergency as a result of these attacks. Just days before the first round, a police officer lost his life in a terrorist attack on the Champs Élyséés. This came just days after security services foiled what they believed to be an attempted attack, with the arrest of two suspects in Marseille.
It is recommended that post-election protests are avoided. Political gatherings in France generally remain peaceful but visitors should remain wary of large-scale events, in case they turn violent. In recent times, far-left and far-right protesters have had confrontations with police, who have resorted to using tear gas, amongst other things, as means to break up the protests. Travellers should familiarize themselves with their environment in Paris especially, so as to avoid hotspots that are likely to attract large crowds.
France remains in a state of emergency, following a series of terrorist attacks. Travellers should be aware of the potential for further attacks, but the risk of this may diminish, now that the election has concluded. Demonstrations and protests are potential targets.
Most visits to France are trouble-free. The largest threat to travellers remains crimes of opportunity such as pickpocketing and petty theft.
We would not advise clients of the need to use enhanced security measures when visiting France. Travellers would also be advised to make use of travel-tracking apps that include an updated news feed to keep them aware of local developments. It is also important to employ sensible security precautions and maintain situational awareness.