PARIS — Emmanuel Macron was voted in on Sunday as France’s next president in what has been described as the most unpredictable election the country has seen in decades.
The center-left politician garnered 65.5 percent of the votes, versus far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of voting, according to an estimate on French state television France 2.
The election was atypical for a host of reasons. It marked the first time in France’s history that neither the mainstream left- or right-wing party was present in a presidential run-off. The campaigning was particularly vicious, and late on Friday, Macron’s camp said his campaign was the focus of a massive hacking operation.
However, it was not the first time Le Pen’s National Front party had made it to the second round of a French presidential election. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2002 squared off against conservative candidate Jacques Chirac, who won the second round with a massive 82 percent of the vote.
While Macron was resoundingly the choice of business leaders for his pro-European stance and campaign based on financial reform, he was unpopular with large parts of the population, who have come to mistrust business and financial institutions.
In an oped piece in Les Echos newspaper published on Friday, Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton became the first major fashion industry executive to throw his weight behind Macron. Describing Le Pen’s platform as a “dead branch,” he cautioned that protectionism was not the solution to the economic and political turmoil roiling the world today.
“Everything in Marine Le Pen’s program, and despite her cloak of sovereignty, breathes fear and weakness,” he said.
Arnault described Macron’s program as a path of “hope and reason,” noting that it was built on the conviction that the private sector is key to job creation.
“I share this founding conviction without reserve: A company that is not hindered in its development, that is not thwarted from its growth path by unreasonable taxation or a cumbersome bureaucracy, has no other project but to invest, innovate and create sustainable employment,” said the executive.
He concluded by saying: “It is without hesitation that I will vote for Emmanuel Macron.”
In the run-up to the election Sunday, fashion industry figures had privately expressed fears that many voters would abstain from going to the polls on Sunday, which falls in the middle a long holiday weekend.
Few ventured to speak on the record, and economic issues took second place in an ideological debate that has pitted the country’s blue-collar workers against its educated elite, with campaign rhetoric that at times echoed the U.S. election that brought to power Donald Trump.
Macron has some ties to the fashion industry. He is reportedly close to entrepreneur and tech billionaire Xavier Niel, partner of Delphine Arnault, executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and daughter of Bernard Arnault.
It is said she offered Macron’s wife, Brigitte Trogneux, style advice during his time as a minister. Trogneux has often worn Louis Vuitton and twice attended the brand’s fashion shows. She has also been spotted at Dior, another brand within the LVMH fold.