French election: Reaction to Macron's win — and what lies ahead for the re-elected president

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By Kit Gillet  & Euronews  with AP, AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron celebrates with supporters in front of the Eiffel Tower Paris, France, Sunday, April 24, 2022.
French President Emmanuel Macron celebrates with supporters in front of the Eiffel Tower Paris, France, Sunday, April 24, 2022.   -  Copyright  Christophe Ena/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

French President Emmanuel Macron won re-election on Sunday with 58% of the vote, compared with 41% for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Congratulations came flooding in from across Europe and the world. However, Macron faces many challenges ahead, as he seeks to govern a deeply divided country.

Macron acknowledged that many people voted for him simply to counter Le Pen, while commending their "sense of duty" and "attachment to the Republic."

See below a summary of Monday's reaction to Macron's win and a look at what comes next for France and its president.


In summary


How the next few weeks will shape up for French politics

AP has published a useful primer on what comes next in France:

France’s Constitutional Council is set to publish the official results of the presidential election on Wednesday. On the same day, Macron will hold a Cabinet meeting.

He will then need to set a date for the inauguration ceremony, which must be held on or before 13 May, at the Elysee Palace. 

Macron will likely head to Berlin as his first official visit, in line with the tradition providing that the newly elected president makes his first trip abroad to neighbouring Germany to celebrate the countries' friendship after multiple wars. 

At some point he may also travel to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a trip he said he would only do on condition that it would have “a useful impact.” Macron spoke to Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz within hours of his victory.

At home, one of Macron's priorities will be to pass by summer a special law to support purchasing power amid the surge in food and energy prices fed by the conflict in Ukraine.

Nationwide parliamentary elections, scheduled in two rounds on June 12 and 19, will decide who controls a majority of the 577 seats at the National Assembly. If Macron’s party wins, he will name a new government accordingly and will be able to pass laws.

If another party gets a majority of seats, he will be forced to appoint a prime minister belonging to that new majority. 

In such a situation, called “cohabitation” in France, the government would implement policies that diverge from Macron’s project. The French president would have sway, however, over the country's foreign policy.


Putin and Xi Jinping congratulate Macron on victory

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who was re-elected the previous day, wishing him "success" in his new term, despite high tensions over Ukraine.

"I sincerely wish you success in your public work, as well as good health," Putin said in a terse telegram sent to Macron, the Kremlin said.

Relations between Paris and Moscow have been severely strained since Russia launched a full invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Despite the crisis, Macron has spoken to Putin several times before and after the conflict broke out to try to find a way out, without success.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also sent a message to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Monday to "congratulate" him on his re-election, China's CCTV reported.

"I wish to continue to work with President Macron to uphold (...), as since the establishment of our diplomatic relations, the principles of independence, mutual understanding, foresight and mutual benefit," Xi said.



Macron needs to do more, rights groups

Rights groups have breathed a sigh of relief at Marine Le Pen’s failure to become French president, but warned against complacency and urged the victor, Emmanuel Macron, to fight racial profiling and discrimination against Muslims, and better protect migrants.

Cécile Coudriou, head of Amnesty International France, cited “egregious human rights failings” under Macron’s presidency including “France’s treatment of refugees and asylum at its borders, systemic discrimination in the form of ethnic profiling by police, disproportionate and dangerously vague counter-terror laws, curbs to the right to protest, intrusive surveillance that impacts the right to privacy, failing to uphold climate commitments and selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

Antiracism group SOS Racisme said : “This victory, which might look large in a cursory analysis, is not so much a victory as a relief. The reality is that Marine Le Pen ... has progressed by about eight points in five years.”

It criticised Macron’s law against so-called “separatism” by radical Muslims and government ministers’ criticism of “wokeism” or “Islamo-leftism.” It also blamed Macron’s “arrogance, (economic) liberalism, brutalisation of the social movement and nods to the far right” for worsening tensions in France. “It is definitely not neutral to help trivialise the far right by ‘choosing’ it as its opposition and winking at it,” it said.



Parliamentary elections less than two months away

As Reuters points out, this is no time for Emmanuel Macron to sit back and celebrate. 

French parliamentary elections in June will define the make-up of the government Macron must rely on to see through reform plans that would be an unprecedented shake-up of France's welfare state, the news agency writes.

Newly elected presidents can usually expect to get a majority in parliament whenever legislative elections directly follow the presidential vote, due to generally low turnout among supporters of all the defeated candidates.

However, in her concession speech, Marine Le Pen sounded defiant, promising a strong opposition bloc in parliament.

At the same time, hard-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon has his mind set on becoming prime minister after securing the bulk of the left-wing vote in the first round.

Melenchon hopes to carry that momentum into the parliamentary elections and force Macron into an awkward and stalemate-prone "cohabitation" with him in charge of a left-wing majority, writes Reuters.

Even if Macron allies do get a majority or a workable coalition pact, he will also have to deal with resistance in the streets to his reform plans, notably a pension reform that would gradually raise the minimum age to 65 from 62.


Election map: In which parts of France did Macron win? 

Here's a great tool for those looking for a regional breakdown of France's election results, to see the areas where Macron won, and those where Le Pen came out ahead.


Police open fire on car in Paris, killing two

Police in central Paris opened fire on a car that was hurtling towards them, killing two people inside, a police source told AFP, just hours after French President Emmanuel Macron won a second term.

The vehicle was driving on Paris's oldest standing bridge, the Pont Neuf, shortly after midnight when it refused to stop at a police checkpoint. As it sped towards the officers, they opened fire, according to the same police source.

Two of the vehicle's occupants were killed and a third was injured, said the source.

A large police presence descended upon the scene in the heart of the capital, where white sheets covered the bodies and a Volkswagen sedan could be seen bisecting traffic lanes.

Less than two kilometres away, French President Emmanuel Macron was celebrating his victory over far-right rival Marine Le Pen with a crowd of supporters on the Champ de Mars park.

No link has been established between the bridge incident and the election night events.



Congratulation messages roll in for Macron

Newly re-elected, President Emmanuel Macron has received congratulatory messages from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, among many other world leaders.


Macron wins, but Le Pen has her best-ever electoral showing

The second five-year term for the 44-year-old centrist has spared France and Europe from the seismic upheaval of having firebrand populist Marine Le Pen at the helm.

During her campaign, Le Pen pledged to dilute French ties with the 27-nation EU, NATO and Germany, moves that would have shaken Europe’s security architecture as the continent deals with its worst conflict since World War II. Le Pen also spoke against EU sanctions on Russian energy supplies and faced scrutiny during the campaign over her previous friendliness with the Kremlin.

A chorus of European leaders hailed Macron's victory, since France has played a leading role in international efforts to punish Russia with sanctions and is supplying weapons to Ukraine. 

“Democracy wins, Europe wins," said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

“Together we will make France and Europe advance," tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Italian Premier Mario Draghi called Macron's victory “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.”

Macron won with 58.5% of the vote to Le Pen's 41.5% — significantly closer than when they first faced off in 2017. Macron is the first French president in 20 years to win reelection, since incumbent Jacques Chirac trounced Le Pen’s father in 2002.

Even so, Le Pen called her result “a shining victory,” saying that “in this defeat, I can't help but feel a form of hope.”

Breaking through the threshold of 40% of the vote is unprecedented for the French far-right. Le Pen was beaten 66% to 34% by Macron in 2017 and her father got less than 20% against Chirac.

Le Pen’s score this time rewarded her years-long efforts to make her far-right politics more palatable to voters. Campaigning hard on cost-of-living issues, she made deep inroads among blue-collar voters in disaffected rural communities and in former industrial centres.

Leftist voters — unable to identify with either the centrist president or Le Pen — agonised with Sunday's choice. Some trooped reluctantly to polling stations solely to stop Le Pen, casting joyless votes for Macron.

“It was the least worst choice,” said Stephanie David, a transport logistics worker who backed a communist candidate in round one.



Key takeaways from 2022 presidential election

French President Emmanuel Macron won a clear victory in the high-stakes presidential election that once again pitted him against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen.

But he inherits a fragmented country, with Le Pen increasing her vote share compared with 2017. Macron acknowledged on Sunday that many French people voted for him only to block the far-right from governing the country and not in support of his programme.

"We must, my friends, be benevolent and respectful because our country is steeped in so much doubt and so much division," Macron said in his victory speech.

Here are some key takeaways from France's election night.