France has a new president. On Sunday May 7, Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen by more than 30 points. Le Pen’s vote share was smaller than the number of abstentions (25.4%, the second highest figure since 1969), blank votes (8.5%) and null votes (3%) combined. In the second round, Le Pen came third.

At Podemos we celebrate that the French far-right has not won the French presidency and that its xenophobic and racist programme has been clearly defeated in the polls. However, we must highlight that more than 10 million French citizens voted for the National Front, consolidating their political project after the victories in the last European and regional elections. Contrary to the ill-intentioned suggestions of the last few days, we now know that the largest contribution of votes to Le Pen in the second round did not come from the voters of “La France Insoumise” but from the Republicans. It is the French right that has reinforced the far right.

We should not be deceived by Macron’s clear victory. He walks on thin ice. First, because all studies indicate that a very substantial percentage of his votes was borrowed to stop the far-right. This is a vote based on rejection, not on approval. 

Secondly, because his radical austerity programme, including another labour market reform, a reform of the public pension system, reduced taxes on corporate profits, cuts to public budgets and public goods, can only deepen the crisis suffered by the French population with different impact on men and women.They are the same austerity policies that have fuelled the rise of the National Front, accelerated the collapse of the French Socialist Party and put an end to the party system established by the Fifth Republic. That is why we believe that the great relief expressed at the results by EU institutions and many European governments is myopic and short-termist. As they did in the Netherlands, European elites keep breathing only at the cost of consolidating the blackmail between austerity or barbarism, between securing the continuity of the establishment or reviving the worst ghosts of European history. Incapable of self-criticism, they rely on the continuity of their policies for lack of an alternative.

For this reason the message of these elections is also clear: it is urgent to build a powerful democratic alternative in Europe. In order to stop Macron 2017 giving way to Le Pen 2022, a new progressive, democratic space is needed that is radically committed to social justice, human rights, gender equity, and the sustainability of the planet. A space that represents a real alternative to both the ‘great coalition’ and the growth of reactionary forces. Given the great result obtained in the first round, “La France Insoumise” must construct that alternative to Macron’s austerity and the National Front’s barbarism. That is the great challenge for June’s legislative elections, and for it they can continue to count on our full support.