Emmanuel Macron, the incumbent President of France, has been re-elected for a second term, beating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen with a projected 58.2% of the vote. Le Pen, the leader of the Rassemblement National party, got an estimated 41.8% of the vote, according to the Ipsos-Sopra Steria polling institute.
Macron, a 44-year old, pro-E.U. centrist candidate and leader of the En Marche party, is the youngest president of the fifth republic and first president to be re-elected for a second mandate since 2002, when Jacques Chirac won over Jean-Marie Le Pen (Marine’s father) with 82.21 % of the vote.
An estimated 28.2% of registered voters didn’t go to the polls, marking the highest abstention rate in a presidential run-off since 1969, according to the news website France 24.
Macron’s first mandate was marked by the yellow vests protests and the pandemic, but his popularity level (37% in January per the Ifop institute) remained above those of previous French presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy at the same time of their mandate, according to Bloomberg.
Macron appeared teary-eyed on the stage of the Champ de Mars in Paris where he made his victory speech. He thanked all those who voted for him, as well as those who didn’t vote for him out of support for his program but to block the far-right, showing their “attachement to republican values” and “humanism.” Macron also expressed his wish to make France an “ecological nation,” to strengthen the country’s “independence,” as well as build a “stronger Europe.”
In her concession speech, Le Pen, meanwhile, vowed to “pursue (her) commitment for France and the French” and “lead the National Rally’s next electoral battle, June legislative elections.” This marks Le Pen’s second consecutive loss in a run-off presidential election.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, a far-leftist candidate who was a favorite among many people in France’s film industry, also weighed in to say that he will campaign to win a majority during the legislative elections and become prime minister. Melenchon, who was defeated with 21.95 % of the vote during the first round of the presidential election, had called on his supporters to not give a single vote to Le Pen but had elected against encouraging them to go vote for Macron.
Macron’s win has been greeted with great relief by France’s entertainment industry players who voiced their concerns over the threat of a win by Le Pen. In the wake of the first round, more than 400 French artists, actors, producers and filmmakers, including Juliette Binoche and Charlotte Gainsbourg, signed an op-ed to urge people to vote for Macron.
Although Le Pen lost the election once again, she has gained significant ground in recent years and has been making appeals to the centre and even to the left. During this race, she positioned herself as a socialist and has been increasingly perceived as a more moderate candidate compared to the further right candidate, Eric Zemmour, a former pundit who was nicknamed “France’s Trump.” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marked a tipping point in the election as Le Pen’s financial ties to the Kremlin played against her and damaged her image. Zemmour also lost popularity with his ambiguous stance towards Russia’s actions and Ukrainian refugees.