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Date : May 17, 2022

Macron wins re-election in France, holding off far-right challenge

Emmanuel Macron has held off a challenge from far-right leader Marine Le Pen to retain the French presidency, according to projected results from French polling agencies.

Macron, the centrist incumbent, is projected to get 57 percent to 58.5 percent of the vote in Sunday’s second-round runoff, compared with 41.5 percent to 43 percent for Le Pen, his nationalist rival.

If the projections are accurate, Macron will triumph decisively, although by a smaller margin than in 2017, when he won by more than 30 percentage points to became France’s youngest president. While she fell short of the Élysée Palace again in her third presidential run, Le Pen still looks to have secured the most votes ever for a French far-right candidate.

In a victory speech at Paris’ Champ de Mars, Macron thanked his supporters and promised a more “independent France” and “stronger Europe.”

“I also know that many of our compatriots voted for me today, not to support the ideas I hold but to block those of the extreme right,” he said. “And I want to thank them here and tell them that I am aware that this vote binds me for the years to come.”

“From now on, I am no longer the candidate of one camp but the president of all,” he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron is a former banker and a liberal centrist who burst onto the global stage five years ago with a new political party.

Le Pen’s challenge to the country’s mainstream order and the West’s unity against Russia had officials in Europe and Washington anxiously following the election amid the war in Ukraine. She is sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin and skeptical of NATO and the European Union.

Le Pen conceded defeat in a speech to supporters shortly after the projections were released but said her unprecedented vote total represented “a shining victory in itself.”

“The ideas we represent are reaching summits,” she said.

After polls closed across France at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET), the polling companies Opinionway, Harris and IFOP worked with media organizations to publish projected results based on early voting patterns. The method has accurately predicted French elections in the past.

The interior ministry will announce the final result Monday. Numbers posted by the ministry showed Macron with 58.5 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 41.4 percent.

Marine Le Pen leads supporters in a rendition of the French national anthem after conceding defeat in a speech at an election night event in Paris.

The campaign was beset by apathy, with many voters dissatisfied with both candidates and turnout looking likely to be around 2 points lower than it was five years ago.

Ultimately Macron, 44, looks to have won a clear victory that surpassed his polling numbers, surging in the final stages to earn five more years at the helm of one of the continent’s two major powers.

He will become the first president since Jacques Chirac two decades ago to secure a second term in office but must now confront domestic dissatisfaction, as well as the effects of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the war on the continent.

He must also battle to keep his parliamentary majority in legislative elections in June.

Voters at the Lycée Voltaire polling station in Paris on Sunday.

Le Pen’s performance shows how much France has changed politically, as mainstream center-left and center-right parties were obliterated in the first round.

In 2002, Chirac won a landslide 82 percent victory over Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father, in a swell of opposition to his hard-line anti-immigration stance.

In recent years, Marine Le Pen has sought to soften her image and distance her party from her family’s often toxic political legacy and association with Holocaust denial.

She won support for concentrating on the rising cost of living, although the more radical social elements of her platform — such as banning Muslim face and head scarves in public — alienated some voters.

European leaders from Brussels to London and beyond, who may have feared a Le Pen win would upend the continent’s post-war order, swiftly congratulated Macron on his re-election.

“Democracy wins, Europe wins,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said.

In a Twitter post, President Joe Biden congratulated Macron and called France “our oldest ally and a key partner in addressing global challenges. I look forward to our continued close cooperation — including on supporting Ukraine, defending democracy, and countering climate change.”