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Relief and concern for France’s allies at Macron’s victory (analysis)

(CNN) — Emmanuel Macron will serve a second term as France’s president — the first person to do so since 2002 — according to pollsters’ projections.

His victory over his right-wing rival, Marine Le Pen, by a relatively comfortable margin of 58.2% to 41.8%, will be greeted with a huge sigh of relief in the capitals of France’s most prominent allies, notably in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union and NATO.

Le Pen could almost be purposely constructed to be someone the leaders of the Western alliance would least like to run a country as important as France.

France is a member of NATO, the European Union and the G7. It has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and is a nuclear power. Yet despite its deep roots in these pillars of the Western order, France also historically favors an autonomous foreign policy, meaning it can act as an intermediary between the US-led Western order and nations such as Iran, China and Russia.

Le Pen’s previous ties to Russia, her lukewarm view of NATO and her hostile view of the EU meant her victory would have rattled cages around the world.

However, if the projections are correct, the scale of Macron’s victory tonight will cut short the celebrations for many French allies. Far from Macron’s impressive victory in 2017, where he comfortably defeated Le Pen with 66% of the vote, that margin is now much smaller.

PARIS, FRANCE – APRIL 24: France’s centrist incumbent president Emmanuel Macron beats his far-right rival Marine Le Pen for a second five-year term as president with 58,8% votes on April 24, 2022 in Paris, France. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen both qualified on Sunday April 10th for France’s 2022 presidential election second round held today, on April 24. This is the second consecutive time the two candidates face-off in the final round of elections. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Although defeating the far right for the second time is a huge victory for Macron, France’s allies will be wide awake to the fact that almost 42% of French voters, according to the data, supported someone who is against him. much of what they stand for.

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Nowhere will this be felt more keenly than among the leaders of NATO and the EU.

For NATO, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been the first real test of the alliance’s unity in years. Although some decisions made by Macron during the crisis have provoked reactions, NATO has largely followed suit.

Considering Le Pen’s previous relationship with Putin and her contempt for NATO, very few thought that this would not create a problem not only in NATO, but also in the UN Security Council.

When it comes to the EU, Macron has made no secret of his desire for Europe to be stronger and more united on security and foreign policy. His vision of European unity sometimes irritates many of his counterparts, who think he is trying to impose a French vision of Europe, although his commitment to the project cannot be questioned.

Le Pen, on the other hand, is more dangerous than someone who wants France to leave the EU: she could lead the group of eurosceptics who want to take control of the bloc from within.

There is a significant number of these people already represented in the EU institutions. In Parliament, far-right parties are represented in several countries. Where things get complicated is at the national level.

There are EU member states, notably Hungary and Poland, which are led by people whose vision of the EU is very close to Le Pen’s. This was highlighted last year when she joined numerous other right-wing leaders, including national leaders, in an open letter in which she opposed many of the progressive ideas that she has put forward in Brussels in recent decades.

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For the traditional West, Macron’s second term is a moment of great relief, but also of warning. If the far right continues to gain ground, there could be a very different outcome five years from now.

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