May 8, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Credit: theatlantic.com

Emmanuel Macron claimed the French presidency yesterday in a decisive 66 to 34 percent victory over far-right rival Marine Le Pen. Read on to learn why much of the world -- and much of the world’s international student population -- is celebrating the win, which closes out one of the country’s most contentious presidential races.

Embracing European Cooperation

At just 39 years old and having never before held a public office, independent centrist Macron was at first glance an unlikely candidate. However, given a political climate ripe for change from mainstream political parties and yet opposed to the populist movements in the UK and the US, the voters demonstrated their resounding approval for Macron’s pro-EU platform.

The New York Times declared of the election, “The French presidential runoff transcended national politics. It was globalization against nationalism. It was the future versus the past. Open versus closed.”

A Victory for Higher Education

While higher education may not have been a deciding factor in the contest, Macron’s outward-looking approach is projected to be a major boon for international exchange, with many anticipating that more academics and researchers will be drawn to France -- particularly at a time when countries like the US and the UK are moving in the opposite direction.

Earlier this year, in fact, Macron made a public plea to US climate change scientists indicating his openness to international cooperation: “I have no doubt about climate change and how committed we have to be regarding this issue,” he said. “Please come to France. You are welcome. It is your nation. We like innovation, we want innovative people, we want people working on climate change, energy, renewables and new technologies. It is your nation.”

Obstacles and Opportunities

And while the New York Times also noted the challenges faced by Macron (“He is taking charge of a nation deeply divided, much like the United States, Britain and other major democracies, with many people feeling marginalized by globalization, economic stagnation, an unresponsive government, unemployment, faceless terrorism and a tide of immigrants.”), his message is ultimately one of hope for many voters.

Said Macron in his victory speech, “My responsibility will be to unite all the women and men ready to take on the tremendous challenges which are waiting for us, and to act. I will fight with all my power against the divisions that undermine us, and which are tearing us apart.”

Read more about studying in France.

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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