The decisive election of Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old political neophyte committed to the European Union, economic reform and traditional liberalism, as president of France offered powerful relief to everyone who had feared that France could become the next country to succumb to the wave of populism, nationalism and anti-globalism sweeping through Western democracies.
A mysterious, 11th-hour email hack of the Macron campaign appears to have made little or no difference to the eventual outcome. With projections showing Mr. Macron with more than 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for the far-right, nationalist Marine Le Pen, his was a victory of hope and optimism over fear and reaction; of a future in Europe rather than in resentful isolation.
The victory was remarkable in many ways. When he enters the Élysée Palace to start his five-year term next weekend, Mr. Macron will be the youngest president in French republican history. He will be the first president in decades not to come from one of the traditional parties of the left or right; he formed his own centrist political party, En Marche! (loosely translated as “Forward!”) barely a year ago. A student of philosophy, accomplished pianist, former investment banker and most recently minister of economy under President François Hollande, he had never before run for office.
But dramatic and impressive as his victory is, Mr. Macron faces formidable challenges. He is taking charge of a nation deeply divided, much like the United States, Britain and other major democracies, with many people feeling marginalized by globalization, economic stagnation, an unresponsive government, unemployment, faceless terrorism and a tide of immigrants.