Macron's victory beats Le Pen in French election Relieves France
PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron comfortably won
reelection to a second term Sunday, triggering relief among allies that
the nuclear-armed power won't abruptly shift course in the midst of the
war in Ukraine from European Union and NATO efforts to punish and
contain Russia's military expansionism.
The second five-year term
for the 44-year-old centrist spared France and Europe from the seismic
upheaval of having firebrand populist Marine Le Pen at the helm,
Macron's presidential runoff challenger who quickly conceded defeat but
was still on course for her best-ever electoral showing.
that “numerous” voters cast ballots for him simply to keep out the
fiercely nationalist far-right Le Pen, Macron pledged to reunite the
country that is “filled with so many doubts, so many divisions” and work
to assuage the anger of French voters that fed Le Pen's campaign.
one will be left by the side of the road," Macron said in a victory
speech against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower and a projection of the
blue-white-and-red tricolor French flag. He was cheered by several
hundred supporters who happily waved French and EU flags.
a lot to do and the war in Ukraine reminds us that we are going through
tragic times where France must make its voice heard," Macron said.
her campaign, Le Pen pledged to dilute French ties with the 27-nation
EU, NATO and Germany, moves that would have shaken Europe’s security
architecture as the continent deals with its worst conflict since World
War II. Le Pen also spoke out against EU sanctions on Russian energy
supplies and faced scrutiny during the campaign over her previous
friendliness with the Kremlin.
A chorus of European leaders hailed
Macron's victory, since France has played a leading role in
international efforts to punish Russia with sanctions and is supplying
weapons to Ukraine.
“Democracy wins, Europe wins," said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
“Together we will make France and Europe advance," tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Premier Mario Draghi hailed Macron's victory as “splendid news for all
of Europe” and a boost to the EU "being a protagonist in the greatest
challenges of our times, starting with the war in Ukraine.”
more than four-fifths of votes counted, Macron was leading 56% to 44%
for Le Pen. Polling agencies projected that once all votes were counted,
Macron's margin of victory would be well above 10 points, although that
would be much closer than when they first faced off in 2017.
is the first French president in 20 years to win reelection, since
incumbent Jacques Chirac trounced Le Pen’s father in 2002.
Le Pen called her results “a shining victory,” saying that “in this defeat, I can't help but feel a form of hope.”
through the threshold of 40% of the vote is unprecedented for the
French far-right. Le Pen was beaten 66% to 34% by Macron in 2017 and her
father got less than 20% against Chirac.
She and hard-left leader
Jean-Luc Melenchon, one of 10 candidates eliminated in the first round
on April 10, both quickly pitched forward Sunday night to France's
legislative election in June, urging voters to give them a parliamentary
majority to hamstring Macron.
Le Pen’s score this time rewarded
her years-long efforts to make her far-right politics more palatable to
voters. Campaigning hard on cost-of-living issues, she made deep inroads
among blue-collar voters in disaffected rural communities and in former
Le Pen voter Jean-Marie Cornic, 78, said he
cast his ballot for her because he wanted a president who would
prioritize “our daily lives — salaries, taxes, pensions.”
in support for Macron compared to five years ago points to a tough
battle ahead for the president to rally people behind him in his second
term. Many French voters found the 2022 presidential rematch less
compelling than in 2017, when Macron was an unknown factor.
voters — unable to identify with either the centrist president or Le
Pen — agonized with Sunday's choice. Some trooped reluctantly to polling
stations solely to stop Le Pen, casting joyless votes for Macron.
was the least worst choice,” said Stephanie David, a transport
logistics worker who backed a communist candidate in round one.
was an impossible choice for retiree Jean-Pierre Roux. Having also
voted communist in round one, he dropped an empty envelope into the
ballot box on Sunday, repelled both by Le Pen’s politics and what he saw
as Macron’s arrogance.
“I am not against his ideas but I cannot stand the person,” Roux said.
contrast, Marian Arbre, voting in Paris, cast his ballot for Macron “to
avoid a government that finds itself with fascists, racists.”
“There’s a real risk,” the 29-year-old fretted.
went into the vote with a sizeable lead in polls but faced a fractured,
anxious and tired electorate. The war in Ukraine and the COVID-19
pandemic battered Macron’s first term, as did months of violent protests
against his economic policies.
In celebrating victory, Macron
acknowledged a debt to voters who helped get him over the line, “not to
support the ideas I hold, but to block those of the extreme right.”
want to thank them and tell them that I am aware that their vote
obliges me for the years to come,” he said. "I am the custodian of their
sense of duty, of their attachment to the Republic.”
Press journalists Sylvie Corbet, Elaine Ganley, Angela Charlton and
Thomas Adamson in Paris, Sam Petrequin in Brussels Michel Spingler in
Henin-Beaumont, and Alex Turnbull in Le Touquet, contributed.