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An election of hope and trust

May 10,2017
Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old political novice and independent centrist, overwhelmingly beat far-right Marine Le Pen touting nationalism and a populist agenda to become France’s next president and ensured Paris’ traditional place in the European Union. Though he is the youngest-ever leader and a newcomer, Macron was dead serious as he delivered his brief but strong-worded victory speech to a crowd made up of his supporters as well as his opponent’s. He did not stop the booing crowd and instead addressed them: “I’m aware of the anger, anxiety, and doubts that a large portion of you have expressed.”

“My responsibly will be to bring every woman and man together, ready to confront the immense challenge awaiting us, and to act,” he declared. “During the five years ahead, my responsibly will be to allay fears, restore our sense of optimism, and rediscover a spirit of conquest, which embodies the French spirit better than anything.” He said, “With all my strength I shall fight against the division which undermines and weakens us … From this evening, and for the next five years, I am going to serve on your behalf, with humility, devotion, and determination.” The leader pleaded for confidence, unity and support to restore French values and dignity.

His campaign of preaching the traditional French values of tolerance and engagement has stopped the spread of populism and nationalism following the British vote to exit the EU and victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. election. The restoration of morality had been the real strength behind his stunning win over the French people frustrated with immigrant problems, EU obligations, inequality and terrorism to turn away from the right and the choice of leaving the EU and liberalism agenda.

Macron without a single elected party member would have to steer the country against multiple challenges such as the waning economy, escalating terrorism threats and extreme political apathy. Over 30 percent had voted for the far-right candidate and 9 percent who did vote also handed in blank ballots to send a message that they favored neither. He also would have to pitch his party En Marche in the June general election to become a legitimate party.

Yet the French voters were willing to put their bets on the young centrist because they were hungry for fresh ideas.

They believed Macron with his message of “marching forward” could rebuild their hope and confidence in their nation.

We hope to celebrate the election result on Wednesday morning with such hopefulness and expectations. Politicians have the duty to heal and mend the divide and deliver hope for a new future for the entire population.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 9, Page 26