PARIS ( Associated Press) – Voting agencies projected that French President Emmanuel Macron comfortably won the presidential election on Sunday, assuring French voters and the European Union leadership stability in the bloc’s only nuclear-armed power, Because the continent is battling the invasion of Russia. Ukraine.
A second five-year term for Macron, if official results are confirmed later on Sunday, would leave France and its allies beyond the seismic turmoil of a wartime change of power in Europe. Macron’s rival, right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen, conceded defeat early on Sunday night.
Her campaign promised to undermine French ties with the 27-nation European Union, a NATO military alliance and Germany, if she won, would shake the security architecture of Europe, as the continent was at its worst since World War II. Deals poorly with conflict. Le Pen also spoke out against sanctions on Russian energy supplies and faced scrutiny during the election campaign over his past friendship with the Kremlin.
Projections by polling agencies, released after the last polling stations closed, said Macron was set to defeat Le Pen by a two-point margin. Five years ago, Macron won a sweeping victory at age 39 to become France’s youngest ever president. This time the gap is expected to narrow: polling agencies OpinionWay, Harris and Ifop estimated that the 44-year-old pro-European centrist had won. At least 57% of the vote.
Le Pen was projected to win between 41.5% and 43% of support – a still unprecedented result for the 53-year-old in his third attempt to win the French presidency.
The preliminary official results are expected later on Sunday night.
If the guesses are correct, Macron becomes only the third president to win the ballot box twice since the founding of modern France in 1958, and for the first time in 20 years, Jacques Chirac overtook Le Pen’s father in 2002 Was.
This time Le Pen’s score rewarded his year-long efforts to make his far-right politics more attractive to voters. Campaigning hard on issues of livelihood, he made deep inroads among blue-collar voters in disaffected rural communities and former industrial centres.
Breaking the threshold of 40% or more of the vote is unprecedented for the French far-right. Le Pen was defeated by Macron by 66% to 34% in 2017. And his father got less than 20% against Chirac.
Several hundred Macon supporters gathered in front of the Eiffel Tower, singing the national anthem and waving French and European flags as television stations broadcast early projections of their victory.
still. The projected drop in support for Macron compared to five years ago points to what is expected to be an uphill battle for the president to get people to join him in his second term.
Many French voters found the 2022 rematch less compelling than in 2017, when Macron was an unknown factor, having never held an elected office before.
Left-wing voters – unable to identify with either the centrist president or Le Pen’s radical nationalist platform – were often tormented by Sunday’s options. Some people reluctantly rushed to the polling stations to stop Le Pen and happily voted for Macron.
“It was at least the worst option,” said Stephanie David, a transportation logistics worker who supported a Communist candidate in the first round.
It was an impossible choice for the retired Jean-Pierre Roux. After voting for a Communist in the first round, he dropped an empty envelope in the ballot box on Sunday, rejecting both Le Pen’s politics and what Macron saw as arrogance.
“I’m not against his views, but I can’t stand that person,” Roux said.
Macron cast a decent lead in the elections, but was unable to ensure victory from a fragmented, anxious and exhausted electorate. The war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic battered Macron’s first term, as did months of violent protests against his economic policies. The turmoil prepared fertile ground for Le Pen.
Marion Arbre, who is voting in Paris, cast her vote for Macron “to avoid a government that finds itself with fascists, racists.”
“There’s a real risk there,” the 29-year-old frets.
With the EU’s only seat on the United Nations Security Council and the only nuclear arsenal, the outcome in France was being seen in the 27-nation bloc as it grappled with the fallout of the Ukraine war.
France has taken a leading role in international efforts to punish Russia with sanctions and is supplying weapons systems to Ukraine. Le Pen’s relations with Russia became an issue during the campaign, raising questions about how he would deal with the Kremlin if elected.
Earlier in the day, Le Pen voted in the northern city of Henin-Beaumont, a struggling former industrial heartland of France, while Macron voted in the resort town of Le Touquet on the English Channel.
Appealing to working-class voters grappling with rising prices, Le Pen has vowed that reducing the cost of living will be his priority if elected. She argued that Macron’s presidency left the country deeply divided, pointing to the yellow vest protest movement that rocked his government before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Macron sought to appeal to voters of immigrant heritage and religious minorities, especially because of Le Pen’s proposed policies targeting Muslims and putting French citizens first for jobs and benefits.
Macron also touted his environmental and climate achievements to young voters who supported leftist candidates in the first round but were often unhappy with runoff match-ups. Macron said his next prime minister would be put in charge of environmental planning as France seeks to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Associated Press journalists Thomas Adamson, Sylvie Corbett and Alain Ganley in Paris, Michele Spingler in Henin-Beaumont and Alex Turnbull at Le Touquet contributed.