France’s incumbent President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected to office in after initial projections gave him a 58.5% to 41.5% lead against far-right opponent Marine Le Pen.
Following his re-election, the French leader acknowledged divisions in France after Le Pen’s anti-immigration party pulled off a historic run, garnering over 12 million votes.
Macron vowed to unite a divided France after the decisive victory against Le Pen, whose anti-immigration rhetoric appealed to a disgruntled section of the French population looking to upset the status quo.
Macron became the first French leader to win re-election in 20 years after initial projected results by Ipsos for France Televisions put him ahead of his rival in the heated race.
Addressing a victory rally at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, where his supporters waved French and European flags, Macron, accompanied by his wife Brigitte, vowed to respond “efficiently” to the “anger and disagreement” of voters who chose the far right.
“I know that a number of French people have voted for me today, not to support my ideas but to stop the ideas of the far right,” he said and called on supporters to be “kind and respectful” to others, because the country was riven by “so much doubt, so much division”.
Macron thanked people who voted for him not because they embrace his ideas but because they wanted to reject Le Pen.
“I’m not the candidate of one camp any more, but the president of all of us.”
Macron beat Le Pen with a lower margin than the 66% he won against her in 2017. Turnout was also lower than five years ago, with abstention estimated at a record 28%.
Le Pen conceded defeat in a speech shortly after the polling projections were released, but still hailed her result as a “brilliant victory”.
Promising to “carry on” her political career and saying that she would “never abandon” the French, the 53-year-old said: “The result represents a brilliant victory.”
Macron’s re-election came as a relief to many, with the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, being among the first people to congratulate him in a tweet, saying.
“I am pleased to be able to continue our good cooperation. Together, we will move France and Europe forward,” she tweeted, while the European Council President Charles Michel, also expressed relief at Macron’s re-election.
“In these troubled times, we need a strong Europe and a France fully committed to a more sovereign and strategic European Union,” he tweeted in French.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi hailed Macron’s victory as “splendid news for all of Europe” and a boost to the EU “being a protagonist in the greatest challenges of our times, starting with the war in Ukraine”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Macron on his re-election.
“France is one of our closest and most important allies,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “I look forward to continuing to work together on the issues which matter most to our two countries and to the world.”