On Sunday, France elected centrist Emmanuel Macron as their youngest-ever president over far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen in a margin of about 66% to 34%, to much celebration and despite the leaking of hacked emails (and falsified documents) aimed at undermining Macron’s campaign. On the downside, it was the lowest voter turnout (75%) in France since 1969 (although a similar turnout in the US would be the highest turnout since 1896), and a record number of voters cast a blank ballot, which counts toward voter turnout stats but isn’t counted towards the candidates’ voter share. The blank vote — the ballot blanc — is a fittingly French act of refusal, and a record 9% of voters showed up at the polls on Sunday to vote for “nobody”.
Macron’s win was also tempered by two more bad signs for future elections in Europe. This was the sixth European election in a row where a nationalist candidate received more votes than polls predicted; it’s almost as if racist people don’t want to admit they’re racist but also don’t want to stop being racist. It is also rather frightening how normalized Le Pen’s party has become in only 15 years. In 2002, when Marine Le Pen’s openly anti-semitic father Jean-Marie Le Pen received 17% of the first round vote, over one million French citizens took to the streets in protest. And now, when his daughter received an even larger percentage of votes, protests have been far less vocal and widespread.
So that’s depressing, but you know what makes us feel better? Jokes. Twitter provided plenty of those, one of them coming from Hillary Clinton throwing some shade at the news media:
And we’re off…