FRANCE: French President 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.
Macron won with 58.5 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 41.5 per cent — significantly closer than when they first faced off in 2017.
Macron is the first French president in 20 years to win reelection, since incumbent Jacques Chirac trounced Le Pen’s father in 2002.
“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 called her result “a shining victory,” saying that “in this defeat, I can’t help but feel a form of hope.” Breaking through the threshold of 40 per cent of the vote is unprecedented for the French far-right. – INDIAN EXPRESS