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Macron’s Post-Election Dilemma

The challenge confronting France's newly re-elected president is how to give his second-round voters valid reasons to believe that he has listened to them. Fortunately, an opening on three related issues is possible.

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron, re-elected with 58% of the vote, received 85% of Parisians’ votes and three-quarters of those of Seine-Saint-Denis, a working-class district at the outskirts of the capital where 30% of the population is foreign-born. But in the Somme district, where Macron was raised, his far-right challenger, Marine Le Pen, was ahead, and in the Pas-de-Calais, where Macron has a home, she got 58%. In this deeply divided country, there seems to be no better predictor of the vote than distance to metropolitan centers.

Occupational and educational (rather than income) cleavages matter, too. Two-thirds of French workers went for Le Pen and three-quarters of its managers for Macron, according to polling by Ipsos, while three-quarters of university graduates went for Macron, against one quarter for Le Pen.

Sociological determinants are compounded by location. France is fast becoming a country where people cluster near their peers. Between 2008 and 2018, the share of managers and high-skill workers in cities like Paris, Bordeaux, or Lyon has increased by four or five percentage points, while lower-middle-class and working-class residents moved out.