The official result came in around 2am EST on November 9, 2016: Donald J. Trump had been elected 45th President of the United States. The reactions from French politicians and the media were quick to follow.
In a speech given live from the Palais de l’Elysée, François Hollande offered cold congratulations to the elected candidate, “as is natural between two democratic heads of state”. “This American election marks the start of a period of uncertainty”, he continued. “Certain stances taken by Donald Trump during the American campaign must be measured against the values and interests we share with the United States.”
“The campaign has been nasty”, reacted on Twitter the Ambassador of France to the United States, Gérard Araud. “But the US we love will overcome this ugly moment.”
The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls took to Twitter to declare that “The American people have spoken. We must face this new global situation head-on, while remaining true to our values.”
Interviewed by the television channel France 2, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault, called for “vigilance” in light of the sentiments expressed by Donald Trump during his campaign, which “until now, have given cause for worry”. He went on to say that, after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, it was vital that the European Union did not follow the United States into discord. “Europe must not waver”, he said, calling for “More solidarity”
In an editorial published on the morning of November 9, the center-left French daily newspaper, Libération, went for the apocalyptic metaphor – “The United States and the world have leapt into the unknown” — before highlighting the extreme stances taken by the now president-elect. “The world’s greatest superpower is now in the hands of the far right.”
Another French daily newspaper, Le Figaro, which just last September published an article by a political analyst explaining “Why the French should vote for Donald Trump”, performed an elegant about-face with an editorial entitled “Donald Trump, from clown to president”. For the swearing in of Donald Trump at the White House on January 20, 2017, the right-wing newspaper is already issuing a “Tornado warning in Washington”.