Home News French president-elect, Emmanuel Macron, gives first speech after historic win

French president-elect, Emmanuel Macron, gives first speech after historic win

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Emmanuel Macron and wife, Brigitte. PHOTO: CBC
The pro-European Union centrist Emmanuel Macron has won the
French presidency in a decisive victory over the far-right Front National
leader, Marine Le Pen, and vowed to unite a divided and fractured France.

Macron, 39, a former economy minister who ran as a “neither
left nor right” independent promising to shake up the French political system,
took 66 per cent to Le Pen’s 34 per cent.
His victory was hailed by his supporters as holding back a
tide of populism after the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory in the United
States election, The Guardian reported.
Addressing thousands of supporters in the grand courtyard of
the Louvre, the vast Paris palace-turned-museum, Macron said he would defend
France and Europe. He said Europe and the world are “watching us” and “waiting
for us to defend the spirit of the Enlightenment, threatened in so many
places”.
He promised to unite a divided and fractured France, saying:
“I will do everything to make sure you never have reason again to vote for
extremes.”
Speaking of his meteoric rise and victory that was not
forecast even a year ago, he said: “Everyone said it was impossible. But they
didn’t know France!”
Despite the wide margin of the final result, Le Pen’s score
nonetheless marked a historic high for the French far right. Even after a
lacklustre campaign that ended with a calamitous performance in the final TV
debate, she was projected to have taken almost 11m votes, double that of her
father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, when he reached the presidential run-off in 2002.
The anti-immigration, anti-EU Front National’s supporters asserted that the
party had a central place as an opposition force in France.
Turnout was the lowest in more than 40 years. Almost
one-third of voters chose neither Macron nor Le Pen, with 12 million abstaining
and 4.2 million spoiling ballot papers.
Macron, who has never held elected office and was unknown
until three years ago, is France’s youngest president. Next Sunday, he will
take over a country under a state of emergency, still facing a major terrorism
threat and struggling with a stagnant economy after decades of mass
unemployment. France is divided after an election campaign in which
anti-establishment anger saw the traditional left and right ruling parties
ejected from the race in the first round for the first time since the period
after the Second World War.
François Bayrou, an ex-minister and Macron’s centrist ally,
said: “He is the youngest head of state on the planet [which] sends an
incredible message of hope. Macron is giving hope to people who had no hope.
Hope that maybe we can do something, go beyond the [left-right] divide that no
longer makes sense.”
Le Pen swiftly conceded defeat. She said she had won a
“historic and massive” score that made her leader of “the biggest opposition
force” in France and vowed to radically overhaul her Front National party. Her
promise to “transform” the far-right movement left open the possibility that
the party could be expanded and renamed in an attempt to boost its electoral
chances. It was a major step in the political normalisation of her movement.

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