French voters halt march of far-right forces

The defeat of the politics of polarisation and hatred in the recent presidential elections in France holds significance that goes beyond Europe. President Emmanuel Macron, who represents centrist politics, won by a fairly comfortable margin over Le Pen of the far-right ideology, thereby arresting the tide of right-wing extremist tendencies in a society that is getting increasingly polarised on racial and religious lines. This is the first time in two decades in France that a president has been re-elected. Macron’s centrist and pragmatic brand of politics holds lessons for democratic countries like India. Though France has been a victim of repeated Islamist terror attacks since 2015, Macron has steadfastly refused to let the extremist right-wing forces hijack French politics. There is no doubt that Le Pen has increased her vote percentage, using a mix of religious bigotry and xenophobia, but it is a matter of big relief, not just for France but for the whole of Europe, that the march of far-right forces has been halted.

The victory of Macron gives hope to the secular voters and parties across the world. India also is currently under the grip of the BJP, a right-wing political party. The country is going through a difficult period with minorities facing the wrath of the Hindutva politics unleashed by the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS. The victory of President Macron is important for India. France is an important source of technology in the defence, aerospace, and civil nuclear sectors. It must be pointed out that Macron played a key role in finalising the sale of Rafale aircraft to India. His overall vision, encompassing respect for multilateralism, cultural diversity, the rule of law, and a commitment to European strategic autonomy sits well with India’s longstanding positions.