Emmanuel Macron will serve another five years as France’s president after victory over far-right Marine Le Pen.
The centrist Macron won by 58.55% to Le Pen’s 41.45%, a larger margin than expected but Le Pen nevertheless secured the far right’s highest share of the vote. Ms Le Pen has described the significant voting gain as a victory, despite the electoral defeat. Macron is the first sitting French president to be re-elected in 20 years.
Le Pen’s policies of tax cuts to tackle high costs of living, a ban on wearing headscarves in public, and stricter immigration controls won the party 13 million votes. The cost of living crisis became a leading debate point in the election, with Macron being accused of acting as a president for the rich. In response, Macron said in his victory speech “an answer must be found to the anger and disagreements that led many of our compatriots to vote for the extreme right.” Voting turnout was at the lowest since 1969 with just under 72% of the population voting. Over three million people spoilt their ballots
Multiple anti-Macron rallies were held across the country, including in Paris, Rennes, Toulouse and Nantes in an objection to the results.
Far-left leader Jean-luc Melenchon, who narrowly beat Le Pen in the first round of voting, said it was good news that the electorate rejected the far right but said the re-elected President “floats in an ocean of abstentions, and blank, and spoiled ballots.”
Macron’s victory was met with relief by the EU who feared the anti-EU policies of Le Pen. The German Chancellor, Olaf Schulz was the first to congratulate Macron on the victory, joined by American President Joe Biden. Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated a “true friend” and said he looked forward to a united Europe. Le Pen had struggled throughout the election campaign with accusations of Kremlin ties.
Serving Prime Minister Jean Castex is now likely to be replaced, with many analysts expecting Macron to ask Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne to take over the position. Borne has so far refused to say if she was expecting the appointment, saying the focus should be on addressing living standards.
France’s attention has now turned to the parliamentary election in June, with one poll suggesting 63% of voters want Macron to lose his majority. In a speech, Le Pen said the “match is not completely over.”