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France's Macron defeats far-right, pledges change

World Apr 24, 2022 08:43PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Official campaign posters of French presidential election candidates Marine le Pen, leader of French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party, and French President Emmanuel Macron, candidate for his re-election are displayed on an official 2/2

By Mimosa Spencer, Layli Foroudi and Ingrid Melander

PARIS (Reuters) -Emmanuel Macron comfortably defeated far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Sunday, heading off a political earthquake for Europe but acknowledging dissatisfaction with his first term and saying he would seek to make amends.

His supporters erupted with joy as the results appeared on a giant screen at the Champ de Mars park by the Eiffel tower.

Leaders in Berlin, Brussels, London and beyond welcomed his defeat of the nationalist, eurosceptic Le Pen.

With 97% of votes counted, Macron was on course for a solid 57.4% of the vote, interior ministry figures showed. But in his victory speech he acknowledged that many had only voted for him only to keep Le Pen out and he promised to address the sense of many French that their living standards are slipping.

"Many in this country voted for me not because they support my ideas but to keep out those of the far-right. I want to thank them and know I owe them a debt in the years to come," he said.

"No one in France will be left by the wayside," he said in a message that had already been spread by senior ministers doing the rounds on French TV stations.

Two years of disruption from the pandemic and surging energy prices exacerbated by the Ukraine war catapulted economic issues to the fore of the campaign. The rising cost of living has become an increasing strain for the poorest in the country.

"He needs to be closer to the people and to listen to them," digital sales worker Virginie, 51, said at the Macron rally, adding he needed to overcome a reputation for arrogance and soften a leadership style Macron himself called "Jupiterian".

Le Pen, who at one stage of the campaign had trailed Macron by just a few points in opinion polls, quickly admitted defeat. But she vowed to keep up the fight with parliamentary elections in June.

"I will never abandon the French," she told supporters chanting "Marine! Marine!"

NO GRACE PERIOD

Macron can expect little or no grace period in a country whose stark political divisions have been brought into the open by an election in which radical parties scored well. Many expect the street protests that marred part of his first term to erupt again as he presses on with pro-business reforms.

"There will be continuity in government policy because the president has been reelected," Health Minister Olivier Veran said. "But we have also heard the French people's message."

How Macron now fares will depend on the looming parliamentary elections. Le Pen wants a nationalist alliance in a move that raises the prospect of her working with rival far-rightists like Eric Zemmour and her niece, Marion Marechal.

Hard-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, who emerged as by far the strongest force on the left of French politics, said he deserves to be prime minister - something that would force Macron into an awkward and stalemate-prone "cohabitation".

"Melenchon as prime minister. That would be fun. Macron would be upset, but that's the point," said Philippe Lagrue, 63, technical director at a Paris theatre, who voted for Macron in the run-off after backing Melenchon in the first round.

Outside France, Macron's victory was hailed as a reprieve for mainstream politics rocked in recent years by Britain's exit from the European Union, 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 (NYSE:TWTR). "In this turbulent period, we need a solid Europe and a France totally committed to a more sovereign and more strategic European Union."

"Congratulations to the President and a true friend @EmmanuelMacron on the election victory," Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on his Twitter account in early hours on Monday.

"The financial markets will breathe a collective sigh of relief following Macron's election victory," said Seema Shah, Chief Strategist at Principal Global Investors.

FRENCH DIVIDES

The disillusion with Macron was reflected in an abstention rate expected to settle around 28%, the highest since 1969.

Initial polling showed the vote was sharply split both by age and socio-economic status: Two-thirds of working class voters backed le Pen, while similar proportions of white-collar executives and pensioners backed Macron, an Elabe poll showed.

Macron won around 59% of votes by 18-24 year-olds with the vote almost evenly split in other age categories.

During the campaign, Le Pen homed in on the rising cost of living and Macron's sometimes abrasive style as some of his weakest points.

She promised sharp cuts to fuel tax, zero-percent sales tax on essential items from pasta to diapers, income exemptions for young workers and a "French first" stance on jobs and welfare.

"I'm shocked to see that a majority of French people want to reelect a president that looked down on them for five years," Adrien Caligiuri, a 27-year-old project manager said at the Le Pen rally.

Macron meanwhile pointed to Le Pen's past admiration for Russia's Vladimir Putin as showing she could not be trusted on the world stage, while insisting she still harboured plans to pull France out of the European Union - something she denies.

France's Macron defeats far-right, pledges change
 

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Comments (11)
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Apr 24, 2022 9:27PM ET
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Never see and will never see article titled FAR left here or any other rag
Phil Ht
Phil Ht Apr 24, 2022 7:10PM ET
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The Caliphate election results
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Apr 24, 2022 6:53PM ET
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LePen admitted defeat -- at least she has more class than traitor Trump in the USA.
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Apr 24, 2022 6:49PM ET
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far right lol
WESLEY WARREN
WSQUARED Apr 24, 2022 6:46PM ET
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ya he's gonna change lol omg
Miriam Morkhul
Miriam Morkhul Apr 24, 2022 2:58PM ET
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Do they use Dominion Voting Systems in France?
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Apr 24, 2022 2:58PM ET
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Did your tin foil hat fall off? Go back in your cave and brush your tooth.
Nils Hullmann
Nils Hullmann Apr 24, 2022 12:50PM ET
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you think the leaders in davos will let legitimate elections interfere with their united nations of europe plans ? the goldman sachs banker will be elected
Todd Gray
Todd Gray Apr 24, 2022 10:41AM ET
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"I don’t see the point in choosing between two things that don't correspond to my ideas," Winter said as he did some morning food shopping. "We live in a parallel world. The politicians don’t represent the people." THAT'S FACTUAL EACH SIDE REALLY REPRESENTS LESS THAN 1 PERCENT OF THEIR COUNTRY! MANY OTHERS ARE BELIEVERS IN THEIR PROPAGANDA, DINING ON THE BAIT.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Apr 24, 2022 10:41AM ET
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Which is why the best government is small government. Then there is less to squabble about as they don’t intervene as much. Government isn’t the only means by which to solve our problems, in fact they’ve only made things worse.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Apr 24, 2022 10:41AM ET
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That is supremely ignorant. I a modern world, a competent representative government has a vital role in a country's success. This is why it is not a good idea to elect people to government who think like Roger Miller. They think government can't do good things so, when they are in power, they work to make sure government does not succeed.
Antonio Neuman
Antonio Neuman Apr 24, 2022 10:37AM ET
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Biased pro Macron article.
Antonio Neuman
Antonio Neuman Apr 24, 2022 10:37AM ET
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Biased pro Macron article. Similar to if Trump wins there will be a thrid world war… more of the same lefty rethoric
 
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