Macron is expected to receive 58.8% of the vote, according to an analysis of voting data by pollsters Ipsos & Sopra Steria for France TV and Radio broadcasters, making him the first French leader to be re-elected in 20 years. However, voter turnout was on track to be the lowest in the presidential runoff since 2002, according to government data released in the late afternoon local time. Ipsos & Sopra Steria projected an abstention rate of 28.2% for the second round of voting, also the highest rate since 2002.
French opinion polls usually release forecasts at 8 p.m. local time, when polling stations close in major cities and several hours before the French Interior Ministry releases official results. Candidates and the French media usually use these predictions, which are based on data from polling stations that close at 7 p.m. in the rest of the country, to announce the winner.
Although Macron’s presentation to voters of a globalized and economically liberal France at the head of a strong European Union beat Le Pen’s vision of a radical inward turn, 41.2% of the people who voted for it brought the French closer to the right of the presidency. More than ever.
Macron’s supporters, assembled on the Champs de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in central Paris, broke out to cheers from a crowd when the news was announced. The celebration was much less significant than after Macron’s victory in 2017, though he once again marched to deliver his address to the European anthem, commonly referred to as the “Ode to Joy”.
In his victory speech, Macron vowed to be “the president for each of you”. He then thanked his supporters and acknowledged that many, as in 2017, voted for him simply to disrupt the far right.
Macron said his second term would not be a continuation of his first, and he committed to address all of France’s current problems.
He also addressed those who backed Le Pen directly, saying that, as president, he must find an answer to the “anger and controversies” that drove them to vote for the far right.
“It will be my responsibility and the responsibility of those around me,” Macron said.
Le Pen gave a concession speech within half an hour of the premiere, speaking to her supporters assembled in a booth in the Bois de Boulogne, west of Paris.
“The great winds of freedom could have blown over our country, but the ballot box decided otherwise,” Le Pen said.
However, Le Pen acknowledged the fact that the far right had not performed well in any presidential election. She described the result as a “historic” and “bright victory” that put her political party, the National Rally, in an “excellent position” for the June parliamentary elections.
“The game is not over yet,” she said.
Macron and Le Pen advanced to the run-off after taking first and second places, respectively, among the 12 candidates who participated in the first round on April 10. They spent the next two weeks touring the country attracting those who did not vote for them. first round.
The second-round lineup was a repeat of the 2017 presidential run-off, when Macron – then a political newcomer – defeated Le Pen by nearly two votes to one. But this time, Macron has had to work with a mixed record on domestic issues, such as his handling of the yellow vest protests and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Macron and Le Pen’s rematch was expected to be much tougher than the first competition five years ago. A poll released after the first round of voting showed that this second round could be close to 51% to 49%. By the time campaigning ended on Friday, most opinion polls separated the candidates by about 10 points.
Le Pen’s ability to attract new voters since 2017 is the latest indication that the French public is turning to extremist politicians to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. In the first round, far-left and far-right candidates captured more than 57% of the vote cast, while 26.3% of registered voters stayed home – resulting in the lowest turnout in 20 years.
Le Pen’s campaign attempted to capitalize on public anger over cost-of-living pressures by launching a serious campaign to help people deal with inflation and high energy prices – a major concern of French voters – rather than relying on the anti-Islamist, anti-immigration and Eurosceptic positions that dominated the first Her two attempts to win the presidency in 2017 and 2012.
She presented herself as a more mainstream and less radical candidate, although much of her statement remained the same as five years ago. “Stopping uncontrolled immigration” and “eradicating Islamic ideologies” were priorities in her statement, and analysts said many of her EU policies would have put France at odds with the bloc.
Although Le Pen has dropped some of her most controversial policy proposals, such as leaving the European Union and the euro, her views on immigration and her position on Islam in France – she wants to make it illegal to wear the headscarf in public – he has not changed.
“I think the hijab is the dress that the Islamists have imposed,” she said during Wednesday’s only presidential debate. “I think the vast majority of women who wear one can’t actually do that, even if they don’t dare say so.”
But Vladimir Putin may have been her biggest political obstacle. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, Le Pen was an outspoken supporter of the Russian president, even visiting him during her 2017 election campaign. Her party also took a loan from a Czech-Russian bank several years ago and is still paying it back.
Although she has since condemned the invasion of Moscow, Macron attacked Le Pen for her earlier stances during the debate. He said he could not be trusted to represent France when dealing with the Kremlin.
“You talk to your bankers when you talk to Russia. That’s the problem,” Macron said during the debate. “You cannot properly defend the interests of France in this matter because your interests are connected with people close to Russian power.”
Le Pen said her party had to seek funding from abroad because no French bank had agreed to the loan request, but the defense apparently failed to resonate.
CNN’s Simon Bouvier, Xiaofei Xu, Camille Knight and Elias Lemercier contributed to this report.
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