Although Emmanuel Macron, the candidate of En Marche!, the new French President-elect, was the first choice among the local French citizens voting on Sunday in Macau, 40.5 per cent of the valid votes cast in the city went to Marine Le Pen, the losing far-right candidate of Le Front National, according to our calculations.
A total of 66 French citizens cast their ballots in the second round of the French presidential election in the polling station in Macau, set up at Alliance Française.
The percentage of votes cast for Le Pen in Macau, is higher than the final national vote count, with Le Pen collecting 33.9 per cent of the poll, or 10.64 million votes, while the winning candidate, Macron, collected 66.1 per cent or 20.75 million votes, according to official data.
Overall in Macau, 42 people voted for Macron and 17 for Le Pen, while seven people abstained, according to information provided by a representative of the local voting station, Eric Sautedé.
In regards to the combined ballots cast in Macau and Hong Kong, totalling 5,256 votes, Macron received 4,771 of the votes and Le Pen 310. The remaining were blank or invalid votes, amounting to 175, according to the information released by the French Consulate in Hong Kong.
In the end, votes cast for Le Pen in Macau and Hong Kong combined represented only 6.5 per cent of the total vote in the two SARs, that is, 34 per cent lower than the number of votes for Le Pen in Macau.
The profile of voters
Questioned about the profile of French voters in Macau and in Hong Kong, Eric Sautedé, a political scientist and assessor at the voting station in Macau, explained that the contrast between votes in the SARs were due to “differences in occupation and education.”
Speaking more specifically about the profile of voters, the political scientist explained that “from a sociological perspective, French residents in Hong Kong and Macau are almost all highly educated and you have a lot of young urban professionals. On top of that, people living abroad tend to embrace globalization and its benefits, thus, the xenophobic and national preference take of Marine Le Pen is clearly both not acceptable or palatable.”
But a much higher ratio of support for Le Pen was seen in the MSAR when compared to the average of votes of French people living abroad, of which 89.31 per cent voted for Macron, according to information provided by the latter.
According to Rui Flores, Executive Programme Manager of the European Union Academic Programme in Macau, the position of voters in Macau was somewhat expected.
“The [Macau] sample, being small, is not very representative. But given that Le Pen had already received a good number of votes in the first round [here], the trend in the second round followed,” he commented.
Le Pen down
Rui Flores believes that Macron’s victory was a “very positive step” in the affirmation of core values of the European Union, since it represents a capacity to “defeat the far-right,” increasingly gaining pace in countries such as The Netherlands and Austria, he mentioned.
“Very early on, the reactions from leaders in Europe and from markets here in Asia showed that Macron’s election was very good news, and that there is a sense of general relief,” Rui explained to Business Daily.
The spokesperson for the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macau also shared with Business Daily the statement by the President of the European Commission, J.P. Juncker, dated May 7, which follows in line with the ‘positive’ outlook ensuing from Macron’s election. In particular, one of the passages reads:
“For my part, I am pleased to see that the ideas that you have defended for a strong and progressive Europe, that protects all its citizens, are those that France will bear under your Presidency in the debate about Europe’s future.”
As for local expectations from French citizens in Macau, Sautedé believes they are expecting “youth and change, and [Macron’s] amazing capacity to win.”
The academic pointed out “the capacity to reform France when French people want it,” pointing out that still they “are always reluctant to accept to make sacrifices.”
“His program is comprehensive and touches upon all kinds of public policies,” he claims of Macron.
Blank and invalid votes
According to French media outlets, the abstention rate in this election was one of the highest in the recent history of France’s presidential elections, at 25.44 per cent – the highest was in 1969, when it hit 31.1 per cent.
To Sautedé, abstention in Hong Kong and Macau was “actually not that high, as there were less than two percentage points difference compared to the first round. Macron easily came first in the first round in [both cities]– the first time I have seen a candidate from the traditional right-wing not making it first in Hong Kong – so people were mobilised.”
Acting as one of the four members at the voting station in Macau, he further provided details on the local ballot cast.
“In Macau, there were seven [voters] that did not express their vote. Six of them voted blank and one of them invalidated the vote, by placing two vote bulletins in the same envelope,” he said.