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Macron vows to heal after divisive campaign

Macron vows to heal after divisive campaign
Pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron promised on Monday to heal France's divisions after crushing far- right leader Marine Le Pen in a pivotal presidential election that has given him a large but fragile mandate for change.

At 39, the pro-EU former investment banker will become France's youngest-ever leader but will face a huge challenge to enact his programme while trying to unite a fractured and demoralised country.

"I will fight with all my strength against the divisions that are undermining us," Macron said in a solemn address at his campaign headquarters, adding that he had seen the "anger, anxiety and doubts" of many voters.
The vicious election campaign exposed deep economic and social divisions in France, as well as tensions provoked by identity and immigration.

Initial estimates showed Macron winning between 65 per cent and 66.1 per cent of the ballots in the first ever election he has contested, far ahead of Le Pen on 33.9 per cent and 35 per cent.

Vast crowds of jubilant Macron supporters celebrated outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, waving French flags.

"He's a symbol of hope," said Jean-Luc Songtia, 36. "It's like Obama eight years ago. It's youth, it's hope." Unknown three years ago, Macron is now poised to become one of Europe's most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.

The result will resonate worldwide and particularly in Brussels and Berlin where leaders will breathe a sigh of relief that Le Pen's anti-EU, anti-globalisation programme has been defeated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said it was a "victory for a strong and united Europe", while EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said French voters had chosen a "European future."
The euro rose against the dollar in Asian trade and other financial markets are expected to react positively to the news.

After Britain's vote last year to leave the EU and Donald Trump's victory in the US, the French election had been widely watched as a test of how high a tide of right-wing nationalism would rise.

Trump, whose beliefs and temperament are seen as radically different to Macron's, congratulated the future French president on his "big win" and said he looked forward to working with him.

Le Pen, 48, had portrayed the ballot as a contest between Macron and the "globalists" -- those in favour of open trade, immigration and shared sovereignty -- and her "patriotic" vision of strong borders and national identities.

In a short statement, Le Pen claimed a "historic, massive result" and said she had called Macron to wish him "success" in tackling the challenges of the country.

Macron will face huge challenges as he attempts to enact his domestic agenda of cutting state spending, easing labour laws, boosting education in deprived areas and extending new protections to the self-employed.
Agencies

Agencies

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