French media decry Macron’s ‘victory without triumph’: Marine Le Pen celebrates best ever result for the far right and new polls show majority do not want Emmanuel to win forthcoming parliamentary vote
- Emmanuel Macron won French presidential vote with 58.54% – beating the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on 41.46%
- But his latest victory was narrower than than in 2017 where he won with 66%
- Le Pen’s result was the best ever for the far right with 13.2m people voting for her
Emmanuel Macron’s victory over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen has been described as a ‘victory without triumph’ by the French media after the National Rally gathered an unprecedented number of votes.
Mr Macron, the 44-year-old centrist, won with a 58.54 per cent share of the vote – beating the far-Right Ms Le Pen, 53, on 41.46 per cent, the final results showed.
But his latest victory over his far-right rival was narrower than their last face-off in 2017, when he won over 66 per cent of the vote, and Le Pen’s result was the best ever for the far right with 13.2 million people voting for her.
And in a sign of trouble to come, two polls published late Sunday showed that most voters do not wish for him to also carry the parliamentary vote in the June elections.
Whilst Le Pen did not win on Sunday, with 41.5 per cent of the vote, Le Pen’s anti-foreigner, anti-system politics of disgruntlement are now more entrenched than ever in the psyche, thinking and political landscape of France.
French daily Le Monde called Macron’s win ‘an evening of victory without a triumph’ after noting a ‘historic’ number of votes for the far-right, while left-leaning Liberation called it ‘a victory without the glory’.
Conservative daily Le Figaro, which ran the front page headline of ‘Great victory, great challenges’, said after all the difficulties of his first term, Macron’s win was ‘no mean feat’, but also asked: ‘Who can possibly believe that it is rooted in popular support?’
In a striking sign of public disenchantment with politics, 8.6 percent of people who voted either delivered a blank ballot or spoilt their papers, interior ministry figures showed.
Turnout was also just 72 per cent, the lowest in any presidential election second-round run-off since 1969.
Emmanuel Macron’s victory over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen has been described as a ‘victory without triumph’ by the French media after the National Rally gathered an unprecedented number of votes
But his latest victory over his far-right rival was narrower than their last face-off in 2017, when he won over 66 per cent of the vote, and Marine Le Pen’s result was the best ever for the far right with 13.2 million people voting for her
Conservative daily Le Figaro ran a front page with the headline ‘Great victory, great challenges’, said after all the challenges of his first term, Macron’s win was ‘no mean feat’, but also asked: ‘Who can possibly believe that it is rooted in popular support?’
French daily Le Monde ran their front page with the headline: Emmanuel macron re-elected President – The far right at a historic level
Le Pen, 53, said she would ‘never abandon’ the French and was already preparing for the June legislative elections.
‘In this defeat, I can’t help but feel a form of hope,’ she said, adding that the result represents a ‘brilliant victory’.
For headscarf-wearing voter Yasmina Aksas, Le Pen’s defeat wasn’t a celebration moment – not with such strong backing for her and ideas that ‘used to be limited to militant far-right groups’ becoming increasingly acceptable in polite company.
‘It’s still 40 per cent of people voting for Le Pen,’ the 19-year-old law student said. ‘It’s not a victory.’
The historic gains for the far right dampened the French leader’s celebrations on Sunday night. Addressing supporters in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, Macron vowed to heal rifts in a deeply divided country.
‘From now on, I am not the candidate of one camp, but everybody’s president,’ he said.
‘Many of our fellow citizens voted for me not because of the ideas I represent, but to block those of the extreme right,’ Macron acknowledged.
The president now faces the challenge of parliamentary elections in June, where keeping a majority will be critical to ensuring he can realise his ambitions.
‘Macron’s biggest challenge will be to create a sense of cohesion in an extremely fragmented country,’ said Tara Varma, senior policy fellow and head of the Paris office of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
‘Le Pen will do her best to capitalise on her result for the June parliamentary elections.’
Mr Macron, the 44-year-old centrist, won with a 58.54 per cent share of the vote – beating the far-Right Ms Le Pen, 53, on 41.46 per cent, the final results showed
Several hundred demonstrators from ultra-left groups took to the streets in some French cities late Sunday in protest at the election outcome. Police used tear gas to disperse gatherings in Paris and the western city of Rennes.
In his victory speech, Macron promised his next five-year term would respond to the frustrations of voters who backed Le Pen.
‘An answer must be found to the anger and disagreements that led many of our compatriots to vote for the extreme right,’ he told thousands of cheering supporters.
‘It will be my responsibility and that of those around me.’
He also pledged that this ‘new era’ would not be one of ‘continuity with the last term which is now ending’.
The June 12 and June 19 parliamentary elections will be what hard-left Jean-Luc Melenchon immediately called a ‘third round’ of the presidential election, with opposition parties of all stripes hoping they can win this time.
‘The recomposition of the French political landscape is not over. The majority that emerges from the parliamentary elections will be decisive for economic policy,’ said Amundi Chief Investment Officer Vincent Mortier.
The message across the Macron camp on Monday morning was that they would listen more, after a first mandate in which Macron himself initially called his leadership style ‘Jupiterian’, suggesting he would stay above the political fray.
‘When a proposal that affects the lives of the French comes to the National Assembly, the deputies must go and discuss it with the French,’ parliament leader Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Macron, told France Inter.
‘Otherwise, there is a risk of a divide between parliamentarians and what the French feel.’
Police arrest a man during a protest of centrist incumbent President Emmanuel Macron’s defeat of far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Sunday
After a campaign dominated by cost of living issues, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Franceinfo that price caps on energy would stay until the end of the year, to ease the surge in energy prices fuelled by the Ukraine war.
For Le Pen, her third defeat in a presidential poll was a bitter pill after she ploughed years of effort into making herself electable and distancing her party from the legacy of its founder, her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Macron’s re-election sparked relief across Europe where many felt a Le Pen presidency would have left the continent rudderless following Brexit and the departure from politics of German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called Macron’s victory ‘great news for all of Europe’ while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said French voters ‘sent a strong vote of confidence in Europe today’.
European Council president Charles Michel said the bloc could now ‘count on France for five more years’ while European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said she was ‘delighted’.
Macron will now try to implement his vision of more pro-business reform and tighter EU integration, after a first term shadowed by protests, then the coronavirus pandemic and finally Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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