Reuters – French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday beat far-right rival Marine Le Pen by a comfortable margin, securing a second term and averting what would have been a political earthquake.
Cheers erupted as the results appeared on a giant screen at Parc du Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, where Macron supporters waved French and EU flags. People hugged, danced and chanted “Macron!”.
EU leaders also hailed the news of victory for pro-EU Macron, not nationalist eurosceptic Le Pen.
Pollsters predicted that Macron would get around 58.5% of the vote. These estimates are normally accurate but may be refined as official results come in.
“I’m very relieved – it had seemed very close and populism was on our doorstep,” Alessandro Paleni, 42, told Reuters at Macron’s rally. But he stressed that the president faced a difficult task given the number of votes given to the far right.
Le Pen, who at one point in the campaign had trailed Macron by only a few points in the opinion polls, quickly admitted defeat but vowed to continue the fight, with legislative elections looming in June.
“I will never abandon the French,” she told supporters, chanting “Marine! Marin!”
Macron can expect little to no grace period after many, especially on the left, only reluctantly voted for him to prevent the far right from winning. The protests that marred part of his first term could erupt again fairly soon, as he tries to push through pro-business reforms.
“We won’t spoil the victory… but the National Rally (of Le Pen) has its best score ever,” Health Minister Olivier Veran told BFM TV.
“There will be continuity in government policy because the president has been re-elected. But we also heard the message from the French,” he added, promising change.
The nature of Macron’s second term will be heavily influenced by the outcome of the June legislative elections. Le Pen said she was aiming for a strong contingent in the Assembly while far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon said he wanted to be prime minister, which would force Macron into a delicate and prone to “cohabitation”. the dead end.
Philippe Lagrue, 63, the technical director of a theater in Paris, said earlier today that he had voted for Macron after voting for Mélenchon in the first round.
He said he would vote for Mélenchon again in June. “Mélenchon Prime Minister. It would be fun. Macron would be upset, but that’s the point.
Macron’s victory on Sunday was immediately hailed by allies as a reprieve for mainstream politics which has been rocked in recent years by Britain’s exit from the European Union, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the rise of a new generation of nationalist leaders.
“Bravo Emmanuel”, wrote the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on Twitter. “In this turbulent period, we need a solid Europe and a France that is fully committed to a more sovereign and more strategic European Union.”
“Financial markets will breathe a collective sigh of relief following Macron’s election victory,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.