Emmanuel Macron is re-elected as president of France, defeating Marine Le Pen.


PARIS – Emmanuel Macron won a second term as president of France, triumphing over Marine Le Pen, his far-right challenger, on Sunday after a campaign in which his pledge of stability triumphed over the temptation of an extremist sting.

Forecasts at the end of the vote, which are generally reliable, showed that Mr Macron, a centrist, won 58.5 percent of the vote, against Ms Le Pen 41.5 percent. His win was much smaller than in 2017, when the margin was 66.1 percent to 33.9 percent for Ms Le Pen, but bigger than it seemed likely two weeks ago.

Speaking to a crowd gathered on the Champ de Mars in front of a twinkling Eiffel Tower, a solemn Mr Macron said his victory was a victory for “a more independent France and a stronger Europe”. At the same time, he acknowledged “the anger expressed” during a bitter campaign and that he had a duty to “respond effectively”.

Ms. Le Pen admitted defeat in her third bid for president but bitterly criticized Mr Macron’s “cruel and violent methods”. She vowed to fight to bring in a large number of representatives in the parliamentary elections in June, declaring that “French tonight have shown their desire for a strong counter-force to Emmanuel Macron.”

At a critical moment in Europe, with the fighting in Ukraine after the Russian invasion, France rejected a candidate who was hostile to NATO, the European Union, the United States, and to its fundamental values ​​that French citizens should not be discriminated against for being being muslim.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the defense minister, said the result reflected “the mobilization of the French to preserve their values ​​and against a narrow view of France.”

The French generally don’t like their presidents, and none have managed to get reelected since 2002. Mr Macron’s unusual feat to come to power for another five years reflects his effective stewardship of the Covid-19 crisis, his resurgence in the economy, and his political agility to occupy the entire center of the political spectrum.

Softening her image, if not her nationalist anti-immigrant program, Ms. Le Pen was part of a wave of alienation and disenchantment to bring the far right closer to power than at any time since 1944. Her National Rally party has joined the mainstream even if at the last minute many French seem to have voted for Macron to ensure that France does not succumb to the xenophobic vitriol of the dark passages of its history.

Ms. Le Pen has long sympathized with Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin, whom she visited in the Kremlin during her last campaign in 2017. She would almost certainly have pursued policies that weakened the united Allied front to save Ukraine from Russia’s attack, gave Mr Putin a breach to exploit in Europe, and undermined the European Union, whose engine has always been a joint Franco-German effort. †

If Brexit had been a blow to unity, a French nationalist quasi-exit, as set out in Ms Le Pen’s proposals, would have kept the European Union alive. That, in turn, would have paralyzed an essential guarantee of peace on the continent in a fleeting moment.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Mr Macron’s victory was “a vote of confidence in Europe”. Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, congratulated the French leader, calling France “one of our closest and most important allies”.

Mr Scholz and two other European leaders had this week taken the unusual step of making clear the importance of a vote against Ms Le Pen in an opinion article in the daily Le Monde. The letter reflected concerns in European capitals and Washington that preceded the vote.

“It is a choice between a democratic candidate, who believes that France is stronger in a powerful and autonomous European Union, and a far-right candidate, who openly siding with those who attack our freedom and our democracy – fundamental values ​​that come directly from France. Enlightenment,” they wrote.

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