Macron defeats the far-right and pledges change
Le Pen concedes defeat Macron hails victory but pledges change Leaders across Europe sigh with relief Opposition turns focus to parliamentary elections in June
PARIS (Reuters) – Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Sunday, causing a political earthquake in Europe, but acknowledged his dissatisfaction with his first term and said he would seek to fix the situation.
His supporters erupted in glee when the results appeared on a giant screen in the Champ de Mars, next to the Eiffel Tower.
Leaders in Berlin, Brussels, London and beyond welcomed his defeat of a Eurosceptic nationalist Le Pen.
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But even as polls showed 58.5% of the vote, Macron acknowledged in his victory speech that many voted for him only to keep Le Pen out, and promised to address the feeling of many French people that their standards of living were declining.
“A lot of people in this country voted for me not because they support my ideas but to drive away the ideas of the far right,” he said. “I want to thank them and know that I owe them a debt in the years to come.”
“No one in France will be left by the wayside,” he said in a message already published by senior ministers who toured French television stations.
Two years of pandemic turmoil and rising energy prices exacerbated by the Ukraine war have pushed economic issues to the fore in the campaign. The rising cost of living has become an increasing pressure on the country’s poorest.
“He has to be closer to people and listen to them,” digital sales employee Virginie, 51, said at Macron’s rally, adding that he needed to overcome a reputation for arrogance and toned down a leadership style that Macron himself called “Jupiteran.”
Le Pen, who at one point in the election campaign trailed Macron by a few points in the polls, quickly conceded defeat. But she has vowed to keep fighting with parliamentary elections in June.
“Marines… Marines!” she told her supporters, chanting.
Macron can expect little or no slack in a country whose stark political divisions were brought to the fore in elections in which extremist parties fared well. Many expect the street protests that marred part of his first term to erupt again as he presses pro-business reforms. Read more
“There will be continuity in the government’s policy because the president has been re-elected,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said. But we also heard the message of the French people.”
How Macron’s prices will now depend on the looming parliamentary elections. Le Pen wants a national alliance in a move that raises the possibility of her working with far-right rivals like Eric Zemmour and her niece Marion Marechal.
Hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has emerged as the most powerful force on the left in French politics, has said he deserves to be prime minister – something that would force Macron into an embarrassing and recession-prone “coexistence”.
said Philippe Lagro, 63, artistic director of the Théâtre de Paris, who voted for Macron in the run-off after supporting Mélenchon in the first round.
Outside France, Macron’s victory has been hailed as a postponement of mainstream politics that has been shaken in recent years by Brexit, the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the rise of a new generation of nationalist leaders.
“Bravo Emmanuel,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter. “In this turbulent period, we need a strong Europe and France fully committed to a more sovereign and strategic European Union.”
“Financial markets will breathe a collective sigh of relief after Macron’s election victory,” said Sima Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.
The disappointment with Macron was reflected in the abstention rate expected to stabilize around 28%, the highest rate since 1969.
The initial poll showed that the vote was sharply divided by age and socioeconomic status: two-thirds of working-class voters supported Le Pen, while similar proportions of CEOs and pensioners backed Macron, an Elaby poll showed.
Macron won about 59% of the vote of young people aged 18 to 24 with votes split almost evenly in the other age groups.
During the campaign, Le Pen focused on the high cost of living and Macron’s sometimes tough style as his weakest points.
It promised steep fuel tax cuts, a zero percent sales tax on essentials from pasta to nappies, income waivers for young workers, and a “first French” stance on jobs and welfare.
“I was shocked to see that the majority of French wanted to re-elect a president who had looked down on them for five years,” said Adrien Caligiuri, a 27-year-old project manager, at Le Pen’s rally.
Meanwhile, Macron noted Le Pen’s past admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, showing that she cannot be trusted on the world stage, while insisting that she still has plans to withdraw France from the European Union, something he denies. Read more
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Additional reporting by Michelle Rose, Lee Thomas, and Jose Trombes. Written by Mark John and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Frances Kerry, Raisa Kasulowski, Alexandra Hudson and Sandra Mahler
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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