Emmanuel Macron’s defeat would have led to a seismic shift in world affairs.
His rival Marine Le Pen would have set France on a collision course with the EU and changed the axis of power in Europe. She even wanted to restore France’s alliance with Russia once the Ukraine conflict was over.
Macron‘s victory means the status quo of the last five years goes on. France and Germany remain the spine of Europe and the French president is likely to continue trying to take a prominent role leading Europe diplomatically.
But the grievances laid bare by this election back home may force him to focus his energies more on domestic issues as he tries to heal the deep divisions exposed during this campaign.
Marine le Pen had trimmed some of her anti-European ambitions. She no longer wanted to restore the Franc and pull France out of the EU.
But she seemed intent on reforming or undermining the EU from within. Her plans to give French nationals preference in benefits would have set her on a collision course with the EU and its single market.
She would have sought alliances with illiberal governments like Poland and Hungary over Germany. All this would have been fatal for the European Union, say her critics.
But it is her affinity with Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin that would arguably have done the most harm to the world order. She condoned Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and although she criticised its invasion of Ukraine she has said Europe should restore relations with Russia once it is over.
A president Le Pen would have pulled France out of the NATO integrated command structure. The French military would not have taken orders from NATO command dealing the western alliance a major blow.
All of this is avoided by a Macron victory. There will be sighs of relief across the chancelleries of Europe.
Britain may have had its differences with Emmanuel Macron, resenting his freelance diplomacy over Ukraine perhaps and wanting him to do more to stop migrants crossing the channel. But the radical changes a Le Pen government would have wrought would not have been welcome in London.
Allies will have been worried by the deep-seated anger and divisions exposed in this election and concerned by the steadily improving fortunes of the far right in France. If Emmanuel Macron spends less time on the world stage now and more time healing his country’s domestic politics, they will not begrudge his absence, least of all in London.