Emmanuel Macron: French president-elect to fight ‘forces of division’

Emmanuel Macron has vowed to fight “the forces of division that undermine France” after easily winning the run-off election for the French presidency.

The centrist candidate, 39, defeated the far right’s Marine Le Pen, winning 66.1% of the vote to her 33.9%.

Acknowledging his victory, Mr Macron told supporters he wanted to ensure Le Pen voters “no longer have a reason to vote for an extremist position”.

There has been a palpable sense of relief among European leaders.

Mr Macron was elected on a pro-European Union platform, while Ms Le Pen, by contrast, threatened to pull out of the single currency and hold an in/out referendum on France’s membership of the EU.

What did Mr Macron say?

In a speech to jubilant supporters, Mr Macron said: “Tonight you won, France won. Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France.”

His win makes him France’s youngest president and overturns the decades-long dominance of France’s two main political parties.

But huge challenges remain, with a third of the electorate choosing Ms Le Pen and even more abstaining or casting a blank ballot.

Mr Macron said he had heard “the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed”, vowing to spend his five years in office “fighting the forces of division that undermine France”.

What has the international reaction been?

Most of those running the EU were breathing a sigh of relief, given Ms Le Pen’s policies and last year’s Brexit vote.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted “happy that the French chose a European future” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Mr Macron’s win was a “victory for a strong united Europe”.

US President Donald Trump, who has previously praised Ms Le Pen, tweeted his congratulations to Mr Macron for the “big win” and said he looked forward to working with him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said amid the “growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism” it was important to “join forces to ensure international stability and security”.

What challenges lie ahead for Mr Macron?

With parliamentary elections in June, he will be campaigning on behalf of his new movement En Marche to get the seats he needs to pursue his legislative agenda.

The grouping, founded just over a year ago, does not yet have a presence in parliament. If he cannot gain a majority he may have to form a coalition.

His campaign pledges included a 120,000 reduction in public-sector jobs, a cut in public spending by €60bn (£50bn; $65bn), and a lowering of the unemployment rate to below 7%.

He vowed to ease labour laws and give new protections to the self-employed.

No date has been set for his inauguration, but he is expected to be sworn-in by 14 May.

Where does this leave Ms Le Pen?

Ms Le Pen won almost double the tally her father Jean-Marie won in 2002, the last time a far right candidate made the French presidential run-off.

Although she performed worse than final polls had indicated, her anti-globalisation, anti-immigrant, high-spending manifesto attracted an estimated 11 million votes.

She said the election had shown a division between “patriots and globalists” and called for the emergence of a new political force.

Ms Le Pen said her National Front party needed to renew itself and that she would start the “deep transformation of our movement”, vowing to lead it into next month’s parliamentary elections.

Source BBC
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