Early projections showed Macron getting around 57-58 percent of the vote.
PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right rival Marine Le Pen by a comfortable margin on Sunday, early poll projections showed, securing a second term and avoiding what would have been a political earthquake.
Early projections showed Macron getting around 57-58 percent of the vote. These estimates are usually accurate, but may be adjusted as official results are received from across the country.
A victory for the centrist, pro-European Union Macron would be hailed by allies as a reprieve for mainstream politics that has been rocked in recent years by Britain’s exit from the European Union, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the rise of a new generation of nationalist leaders.
Macron will be joining a small club: only two French presidents before him have managed to secure a second term. But his margin of victory appears to be narrower than when he first beat Le Pen in 2017, underscoring how many French remain unimpressed with him and his national record.
That disappointment was reflected in turnout figures, with France’s main polling institutes saying the abstention rate was likely to be around 28 percent, the highest since 1969.
Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing Western sanctions that have exacerbated rising fuel prices, Le Pen’s campaign focused on the rising cost of living as Macron’s weak point.
He promised deep fuel tax cuts, zero percent sales tax on essentials from pasta to diapers, income exemptions for young workers and a “French first” stance on jobs and welfare.
Macron, meanwhile, said her past admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin showed she could not be trusted on the world stage, while insisting she still harbored plans to take France out of the European Union, something she denies.
DO YOU CALL THE ‘COHABITATION’?
In the latter part of the campaign, as he sought the backing of left-wing voters, Macron downplayed an earlier promise to make the French work longer and said he was open to discussing plans to raise the retirement age from 62. to 65 years.
In the end, as viewer polls testified after last week’s fractious televised debate between the two, Le Pen’s policies, which included a proposal to ban people from wearing Muslim headscarves in public, remained too extreme for many French. .
Former merchant banker Macron’s decision to run for president in 2017 and establish his own grassroots movement from scratch has put an end to old certainties about French politics, something that may affect him again in parliamentary elections in June.
Instead of limiting the rise of radical forces as he said he would, Macron’s nonpartisan centrism has hastened the electoral collapse of the mainstream left and right, whose two candidates were only able to muster 6.5% of the vote in the first round on April 10. .
One notable winner has been the leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won 22 percent in the first round and has already put himself forward to become Macron’s prime minister in an uneasy “cohabitation” if his group does well in the election. June vote.
(Additional reporting by Michel Rose, Leigh Thomas, and Gus Trompiz; Writing by Mark John, Richard Lough, and Ingrid Melander; Frances Kerry, Raissa Kasolowsky, Alexandra Hudson)
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