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

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On 8 May 2017 at 09:00

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 66.06% of the vote to her 33.94%.
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 (...)

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 66.06% of the vote to her 33.94%.

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 passionately 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."

At 39, he is France’s youngest president. His win 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".

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 parliamentary elections next month.

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."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tweeted her congratulations, saying 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.

Emmanuel Macron has won the presidency. He now needs to win over the French people.

Many of those who voted for him did so to stop Marine Le Pen. They remain to be convinced by his political programme, unlike Brussels, which is delighted.

EU leaders believe Marine Le Pen’s defeat is a strong sign that Eurosceptic nationalism is now ebbing.

But while far right populists have been defeated in Austria, the Netherlands and France, the barbed issues that drove voters to them - unemployment, immigration and fear of globalisation - remain to be resolved.

France’s deep political divisions will become evident once again in the lead-up to parliamentary elections.

The question remains: Will Emmanuel Macron, inexperienced in politics and with his fledgling party be able to form the credible government needed to pass the reforms he promises?

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.

Mr Macron made pro-Europeanism a central feature of his campaign

Source:BBC


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