UPDATE, writethru: With an estimated 58.2% of the vote, Emmanuel Macron has been reelected as President of France, defeating extreme right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen who amassed 41.8%. Macron now becomes the eighth French incumbent to win a second term.
Coming into today’s final round of the election, independent centrist Macron was leading in the polls, but throughout her campaign, Le Pen had gained momentum compared to the first time the two faced off in 2017. Today marked the second runoff between candidates from parties other than the traditional left and right.
Voter abstention today was estimated at 28.7%, according to media reports. This is higher than in 2017, and is also more than the first round of voting two weeks ago. However, it is not a record breaker.
Macron’s camp this evening was parked on the Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower where Daft Punk’s “One More Time” blared out from loudspeakers on the esplanade when the results were announced. Le Pen was at the Pavillion d’Armenonville in Paris’ 16th arrondissement where she appeared shortly after the results.
In her concession speech, Le Pen said she was more determined than ever, having increased her percentage of the vote versus 2017. “The French people are expressing this evening the desire for a strong counter-power to that of Emmanuel Macron… A great political recomposition is emerging in this country.” She added that “the game is not quite played,” given legislative elections will take place in a few weeks. “Tonight,” she concluded, “I say it again, I will never abandon the French people.”
Macron appeared on the Champ de Mars later in the evening, and walked to the stage surrounded by his wife and a group of children. He did this to the strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” — the anthem of the European Union — which was the same music he chose five years ago upon his first election.
He thanked his supporters and said, “After five years of transformations with happy and difficult hours, this day a majority made the choice to put their trust in me to preside over the republic for the next five years.”
He continued, “I know also that a number of our compatriots voted for me today, not to support my ideas, but to block those of the extreme right. I want to thank them. I know this vote obliges me in the years to come. I also think of all of our compatriots who abstained… We have to respond to that.”
And, he said, “I think of those who voted for Marine Le Pen and for whom this is a disappointment,” at that the crowd began to boo, with Macron admonishing, “Don’t boo anyone… From now on, I am no longer the candidate of one camp, but the president of all.”
In conclusion, Macron said the divisions expressed in this election must be healed “by ensuring respect for everyone, every day. I want a fairer society, equality between women and men… The years to come will certainly be difficult, but they will be historic and we will have to write them, together, for the new generations.”
Egyptian mezzo-soprano Farrah El Dibany then mounted the stage and performed French national anthem “La Marseillaise.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among the first world leaders to congratulate the reelected President (scroll down for more reactions).
Congratulations to @EmmanuelMacron on your re-election as President of France. France is one of our closest and most important allies. I look forward to continuing to work together on the issues which matter most to our two countries and to the world.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 24, 2022
France has been divided in recent weeks, with many decrying the options presented in the election. A nearly three-hour televised debate between the candidates drew the lowest ever ratings for the traditional exchange that takes place between the two rounds of voting.
In the wake of the first round, some 400 artists lent their names to an op-ed published in Le Monde urging the electorate to put its voice behind Macron.
Signatories including Juliette Binoche, Jane Birkin, Guillaume Canet, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mélanie Thierry wrote in the opinion piece, “Without illusions, without hesitation and without trembling, we will vote for Emmanuel Macron.” Of Le Pen, they said, “We cannot imagine, at the head of France, a candidate whose program remains that of xenophobia and withdrawal, a candidate who has made an alliance with totalitarian and warmongering powers. We cannot imagine what this terrible sign would mean for Europe and for the world.”
Populist Le Pen, who has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and was one of the first international politicians to celebrate Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency, had attempted to soften her image and that of her anti-immigration party, but her program included measures that are in contradiction with European treaties, potentially calling into question the freedom of movement of goods, and also of people.
Cher @EmmanuelMacron, toutes mes félicitations pour votre réélection à la présidence de la République.
Je me réjouis de pouvoir continuer notre excellente coopération.
Ensemble, nous ferons avancer la France et l’Europe.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 24, 2022
Félicitations, herzliche Glückwünsche, lieber Präsident @EmmanuelMacron. Deine Wählerinnen und Wähler haben heute auch ein starkes Bekenntnis zu Europa gesendet.
Ich freue mich, dass wir unsere gute Zusammenarbeit fortsetzen! pic.twitter.com/ZJQSc6OAz9
— Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz (@Bundeskanzler) April 24, 2022
Chaleureux bravo cher @EmmanuelMacron
En cette période tourmentée, nous avons besoin d’une Europe solide et d’une France totalement engagée pour une Union européenne plus souveraine et plus stratégique.
Nous pouvons compter sur la #France #5 ans de plus. pic.twitter.com/JEPf6Pqght
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) April 24, 2022
Los ciudadanos han elegido una Francia comprometida con una UE libre, fuerte y justa.
Gana la democracia. Gana Europa.
Enhorabuena @EmmanuelMacron. #Presidentielles2022
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) April 24, 2022
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