French election: Macron holds right-wing extremity

Credit…Thibault Camus / Associated Press

PARIS – Officials across Europe responded quickly with a sigh of relief on Sunday after French President Emmanuel Macron comfortably beat his right-wing extremist rival, Marine Le Pen, in the presidential election.

“Together we will promote France and Europe,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, European Union Executive Arm, wrote in French on Twitter.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, wrote on Twitter that “we can count on France for five more years,” while Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany said Mr Macron’s re-election was a “vote of confidence in Europe.”

Mr. Macron’s office said Sunday that Mr. Scholz had called Mr. Macron to congratulate him. “This is the first call the president has received and taken, a sign of Franco-German friendship,” his office said.

At home, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Mr Macron’s foreign secretary, told France 2 television that he was “convinced” that Mr Macron would be “up to the challenges that lie ahead.”

The final results have not yet been announced, but French pollsters estimate that Mr Macron has won about 58 percent of the vote. Yet his political opponents warned that his next term should take into account the smoldering anger of French voters, as the far right won more of the votes than it has for decades.

“There has never been such a voice of despair,” Christian Jacob, leader of the conservative Républicain party, told French television.

About 28 percent of French voters abstained in this round of elections – the highest level in more than 50 years in the second round of a presidential vote.

“He’s hovering in a sea of ​​omissions and blank or reset ballot papers,” Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the fiery left-winger who came in at a strong third place in the first round of elections earlier this month, said in a speech Sunday of Mr. Macron.

Mr. Mélenchon hopes to become prime minister if his party gains a strong majority in the June parliamentary elections. “Third round starts tonight,” he said.

Top European leaders had expressed barely veiled alarm over the possibility of a Le Pen victory. Last week, the leaders of Germany, Portugal and Spain had taken the most unusual step in an opinion piece in Le Monde that they implicitly called on French voters to reject her.

On Sunday, Christian Lindner, Germany’s finance minister, said a united Europe was the biggest winner. “This choice was a directional choice,” he wrote on Twitter. “It was about fundamental value issues.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez welcomed Macron’s victory as proof that the French want “a free, strong and just EU”

Officials outside the EU also responded.

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky also congratulated Mr Macron on his victory, calling him a “true friend of Ukraine” on Twitter. “I appreciate his support and I am convinced that together we will move forward towards new common victories,” he wrote.

And Christine Lagarde, the head of the European Central Bank, expressed her “warmest congratulations” to Mr Macron.

“Strong leadership is crucial in these uncertain times, and your tireless dedication will be much needed to tackle the challenges we face in Europe.” Lagarde wrote on Twitter.

And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that “France is one of our closest and most important allies.”

“I look forward to continuing to work together on the issues that matter most to our two countries and to the world,” he wrote. Johnson.

Liz Alderman and Raphael Minder contributed with reporting.

Correction:

April 24, 2022

An earlier version of this article misunderstood Christine Lagarde’s position. She is the head of the European Central Bank, not the head of the International Monetary Fund.

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