France voted Sunday, and Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen by 66 to 34 percent, more than suggested by the polls (which were right on target in the first round of voting on April 23). Le Pen's showing was considerably stronger than her father Jean-Marie Le Pen's 18 percent in the 2002 runoff against Jacques Chirac. One likely reason is the elder Le Pen's defense of the Vichy regime and characterization of the Holocaust as a "detail" of history, comments for which Marine Le Pen threw him out of her Front National party. Another possible reason is that France has been plagued by Islamist terrorist attacks in recent years much more than was the case 15 years ago.
In a Washington Examiner column last month, I characterized recent political results in Britain, the United States and other nations as fights between the capital and the countryside. You might characterize the results in France that way too — except that Le Pen was unable to carry the countryside. Instead, the results show that she was rejected overwhelmingly in the capital, but was competitive in the rest of France only in areas that have been particularly aggrieved by events recent and historic, and was rejected 2-1 in the rest of the country. Calculating from the national returns as reported in Figaro, I get the following.
Metropolitan Paris, defined as the departements of Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne, Seine-St. Denis, Val d'Oise, Yvelines and Essone, cast 14 percent of the nation's votes. It favored Macron 81 to 19 percent. The city of Paris (the department of Seine) favored him 90 to 10 percent. Nationally, Le Pen nearly doubled her father's 2002 percentage of the vote, but she just barely topped it in metro Paris: in line with the emerging capital versus countryside contrast, the capital remained peculiarly impervious to the Le Pen appeal.
Le Pen was competitive on the Mediterranean coast, which has had many Muslim immigrants and faces the threat of illegal entrants seeking refugee or asylum status. This area, defined as the departements of Pyrenees-Orientales, Aude, Herault, Gard, Bouches-du-Rhone, Var and Alpes-Maritimes, cast 10 percent of the nation's votes. It favored Marcon by a 56 to 44 percent margin, well below his national average
The northern and eastern parts of France, ravaged by fighting in World War I or part of the Alsace-Lorraine territory ruled by Germany between 1871 and 1918, was also relatively competitive territory. It includes much declining industrial landscape and the port of Calais, where refugees seeking passage to Britain have set up encampments. Defined as the departments of Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Oise, Aisne, Aube, Marne, Ardennes, Meuse, Haute-Marne, Vosges, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Territoire de Belfort, it cast 13 percent of the nation's votes, and gave Macron a 55 to 45 percent margin. It includes the only two departements carried by Le Pen, Pas-de-Calais and Aisne.
The remainder of France, which cast 58 percent of the nation's votes, went for Macron by a 67 to 33 percent margin, just about the national average. Le Pen ran especially poorly in the larger cities, which like Paris seem to house the affluent; she ran better in the sparsely populated countryside, but not enough to be competitive in almost any departement outside the north and east and the Mediterranean coast. The response of la France Profonde to Le Pen is thus a big contrast with England outside London, which cast decisive votes for Brexit, and the United States between the Appalachians and the Sierra Nevada, which produced decisive electoral votes for Donald Trump. In France, in contrast, most voters in the countryside decided to follow the lead of the capital.