‘France has won!’

Pro-EU Em­manuel Macron be­comes France’s youngest pres­i­dent in his­tory.

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page -

Rip­ping up France’s political map, French vot­ers elected in­de­pen­dent cen­trist Em­manuel Macron as the coun­try’s youngest pres­i­dent Sun­day, de­liv­er­ing a re­sound­ing vic­tory to the un­abashedly pro-Euro­pean for­mer in­vest­ment banker and strength­en­ing France’s place as a cen­tral pil­lar of the Euro­pean Union.

At a vic­tory party out­side the Lou­vre Mu­seum in Paris, Macron sup­port­ers roared with de­light at the news, wav­ing red, white and blue tri­colour flags. The ju­bi­lant crowd swelled to thou­sands as the night wore on.

“A new page in our long his­tory is open­ing tonight. I want it to be one of hope and re­newed con­fi­dence,’’ Macron said.

Marine Le Pen, his far-right op­po­nent in the pres­i­den­tial runoff, quickly called the 39-year-old Macron to con­cede de­feat af­ter vot­ers re­jected her “French-first’’ na­tion­al­ism by a large mar­gin. Macron, in a solemn tele­vised vic­tory speech, vowed to heal the so­cial di­vi­sions ex­posed by France’s ac­ri­mo­nious elec­tion cam­paign and bring “hope and re­newed con­fi­dence’’ to his coun­try.

“I know the di­vi­sions in our na­tion that led some to ex­treme votes. I re­spect them,’’ he de­clared, un­smil­ing. “I know the anger, the anx­i­ety, the doubts that a large num­ber of you also ex­pressed. It is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to hear them.’’

The re­sult wasn’t even close: With four-fifths of votes counted, Macron had 64 per cent sup­port to Le Pen’s 36 per cent.

Le Pen’s per­for­mance dashed her hopes that the pop­ulist that which swept Don­ald Trump into the White House and led Bri­tain to vote to leave the EU would also carry her to France’s pres­i­den­tial El­y­see Palace.

Macron’s vic­tory marked the third time in six months — fol­low­ing elec­tions in Aus­tria and the Nether­lands — that Euro­pean vot­ers shot down far-right pop­ulists who wanted to re­store bor­ders across Europe. The elec­tion of a French pres­i­dent who cham­pi­oned Euro­pean unity could also strengthen the EU’s hand in its com­plex di­vorce pro­ceed­ings with Bri­tain.

Parisians lined streets out­side his cam­paign head­quar­ters as Macron left in a mo­tor­cade to join the party at the Lou­vre. There, the Euro­pean an­them “Ode to Joy’’ played as Macron strode out to ad­dress his sup­port­ers.

“France has won!’’ he said. “Ev­ery­one said it was im­pos­si­ble. But they did not know France!’’

Say­ing Le Pen vot­ers backed her be­cause they were an­gry, he vowed: “I will do ev­ery­thing in the five years to come so there is no more rea­son to vote for the ex­tremes.”

Many French vot­ers had backed him reluc­tantly, sim­ply to keep out Le Pen and her Na­tional Front party, which has a long anti-Semitic and racist his­tory.

Af­ter the most closely watched and un­pre­dictable French pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in re­cent mem­ory, many vot­ers re­jected the runoff choices al­to­gether. Poll­sters pro­jected that French vot­ers cast blank or spoiled bal­lots in record num­bers Sun­day.

Con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages poured in from abroad. Trump tweeted con­grat­u­la­tions on what he called Macron’s “big win’’ and said he looked for­ward to work­ing with the French leader. Macron has said he wants con­tin­ued in­tel­li­gence­shar­ing with the United States and co-op­er­a­tion at the United Na­tions and hopes to per­suade Trump not to pull the U.S. out of a global ac­cord fight­ing cli­mate change.

Ger­many’s for­eign min­is­ter, Sig­mar Gabriel, laced his wel­come for Macron with a warn­ing to the French, say­ing: “If he fails, in five years Mrs. Le Pen will be pres­i­dent and the Euro­pean project will go to the dogs.’’

Macron be­comes not only France’s youngest-ever pres­i­dent but also one of its most un­likely. Un­til now, mod­ern France had been gov­erned ei­ther by the So­cial­ists or the con­ser­va­tives. Both Macron and Le Pen up­ended that right-left tra­di­tion.

“France has sent an in­cred­i­ble mes­sage to it­self, to Europe and the world,’’ said Macron ally Fran­cois Bay­rou, tipped among his pos­si­ble choices for prime min­is­ter.


Sup­port­ers of French in­de­pen­dent cen­trist pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Em­manuel Macron kiss as they cel­e­brate out­side the Lou­vre mu­seum in Paris, Sun­day. Cen­trist Em­manuel Macron is France’s next pres­i­dent, putting a 39-year-old political novice at the helm of one of the world’s big­gest economies and slow­ing a global pop­ulist wave.


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