France's centrist President Emmanuel Macron of the Republic on the March (LREM) was re-elected Sunday for another five-year term at the helm of the Elysée Palace, clearly surpassing far-right candidate Marine LePen of the National Rally (RN) in the runoff by 58.5% of the votes against 41.5%.
Despite conceding defeat, LePen highlighted her party's unprecedented number of votes, which she dubbed as a victory since it was indeed an improvement from the 66% with which % Macron had beaten her five years ago.
I know that several French people voted for me today, not to support my ideas but to stop the ideas of the far-right, Macron admitted as he called on his supporters to be kind and respectful to each other because the country was torn by so much doubt, so much division.
I am no longer the candidate of one camp, but the president of all of us, he added.
Macron became the first French leader to win re-election in 20 years, but Le Pen’s 12 million votes also marked the closest the far-right has ever come to taking power in France.
Le Pen managed to give the nationalists their highest score in a French presidential election, after campaigning on the cost-of-living crisis and promising to ban the Muslim veil in public places in addition to a change in policies regarding the participation of immigrants in jobs, housing, and healthcare benefits.
The ideas we represent are reaching new heights, LePen stressed. Tonight's result represents in itself a resounding victory. I have no resentment or rancor for having lost, she added.
Macron's win prompted a wave of relief throughout the European Union since it meant the defeat of the Euroskeptic LePen.
Meanwhile, Argentine President Alberto Fernánmmdez said that the French [people] expressed themselves clearly in favor of the democratic project of Emmanuel Macron.
In the face of the strident voices of the extreme right, propagators of hatred and prejudice, the calm strength of democrats is once again the political majority in France, Fernández stressed.
Aggressive and confrontational voices are not the answer. In times of redefinitions in the international scenario, Macron's victory is fundamental to deepen multilateralism, he added.
Macron had won the first round by 27.85% of the votes over LePen's 23.15% in elections that marked unprecedented lows for traditional politicians such as the Socialists.
About 28% of voters did not show up at Sunday's runoff, with polling by Ipsos-Sopra Steria showing that 46 percent of the French had a negative feeling about the prospects of a second Macron term.
Sunday's vote was the 53-year-old LePen's third try. She took 17.9% of the votes in 2012 and 33.9% in 2017. Despite Sunday's results, fears of what 2027 might bring already linger over France's skies.
LePen has successfully moved the National Rally (formerly the National Front) away from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen's radical right positions toward politics mainstream, without abandoning the party's nationalist views against globalization, immigration and raising the retirement age, while in favor of taxing large corporations more heavily and expand social welfare and healthcare.
In 2015, Marine Le Pen expelled her father from the party over his inflammatory remarks about the Holocaust and the Vichy regime.
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