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Can Macron Redraw the Political Map?

The challenge before French President Emmanuel Macron is to forge a new social contract that protects the most vulnerable from the rapid shifts and abrupt disruptions inherent in a flexible twenty-first-century economy. If he succeeds, he will have delivered on reformists' long-held idea of “modernity.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Many commentators have described Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the French presidential election as a triumph for the center right, because he received votes that otherwise would have gone to the scandal-plagued mainstream conservative candidate, François Fillon.

But this electoral dynamic does not capture the meaning of Macron’s victory. It would be more accurate to say that Macron cut through traditional party divides and stood as a candidate for those who believe that, with proper management and new technologies, European integration and the forces of globalization can deliver widely shared benefits. By contrast, most of Macron’s opponents simply stoked fears about today’s economic realities.

Consider the following statistics from the French presidential election’s first round: 42% of Macron’s supporters have in the past sympathized with the Socialist Party; and another 36% have tended to support centrists. These data indicate that voters on the left and in the center constitute the bulk of Macron’s support base, and that they regarded him as a center-left, rather than a center-right, candidate.