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ELECTION 2022

France President Macron pledges to tackle 'doubts and divisions' after election win

EUROPE
By Reuters | Apr 25th 2022 | 3 min read

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he arrives to deliver a speech after being re-elected as president, following the results in the second round of the 2022 French presidential election, during his victory rally at the Champs de Mars in Paris, France, April 24, 2022. [Reuters, Benoit Tessier]

Emmanuel Macron pledged to address deep divisions within France as results showed a clear presidential election win over Marine Le Pen, acknowledging that many had voted for him mainly to thwart his far-right challenger.

With all eyes turned towards a parliamentary election in June, he must now negotiate another tricky period of campaigning to try to ensure a legislature that will give him the majority he will need to implement his policies.

Final results of Sunday's runoff showed Macron won 58.54% of the vote, a result line with late polling but a higher margin of victory than many earlier surveys had predicted.

The result also give the far right its biggest share of the presidential ballot on record.

"Many in this country voted for me not because they support my ideas but to keep out those of the far-right. I want to thank them and know I owe them a debt in the years to come," Macron said in a late-night victory speech.

"We will have to be benevolent and respectful because our country is riddled with so many doubts, so many divisions."

While Macron's margin of victory was comfortable, it was well below the 66.1% he scored against the same opponent in their first runoff in 2017, and even further from the 82% secured by conservative Jacques Chirac in 2002 when the far-right first made it to the runoff round.

Hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon - who came a close third behind Le Pen in the first round - immediately labelled the June 12 and June 19 parliamentary elections a "third round" of the presidential election.

It is a ballot in which opposition parties of all stripes will be hoping to win.

The conservative daily Le Figaro wrote in its main editorial on Monday: "In truth, the marble statue is a giant with feet of clay. Emmanuel Macron knows this well ... he will not benefit from any grace period."

The message across the Macron camp on Monday was that they would listen more, after a first mandate in which Macron himself initially called his leadership style "Jupiterian", suggesting he would stay above the political fray.

"When a proposal that affects the lives of the French comes to the National Assembly, the deputies must go and discuss it with the French," parliament leader Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Macron, told France Inter.

"Otherwise, there is a risk of a divide between parliamentarians and what the French feel."

Macron can likely expect the protests that have marred some of his first mandate to come back as he tries to push his business reforms, including plans to push the retirement age from 62 to 65 years.

"He's not going to do another five years of the same mandate, that's clear. We won't let him do it," said 63-year-old administrative worker Colette Sierra.

"If he does, I think people are ready to take to the streets if there isn’t the right kind of coalition government."

But some voters were genuinely happy with Macron's win.

"I'm very happy about the result because this president has already steered us through several challenges," said 65-year-old lorry driver Lucien Sozinho. "He has shown courage, and there you have it, that's the result."

After a campaign dominated by cost of living issues, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Franceinfo that price caps on energy would stay until the end of the year, to ease the surge in energy prices fuelled by the Ukraine war.

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