French President Emmanuel Macron has reached out to Marine Le Pen’s frustrated supporters after he was re-elected for a second five-year term on April 24, 2022.
Mr Macron, the 44-year-old centrist, won with a 58.2% share of the vote – beating the far-Right Ms Le Pen, 53, on 41.8%, according to exit polls.
In an ambitious victory speech, Mr Macron said: ‘From now on I am no longer the candidate for a party. I’m everyone’s President!’
He conceded that France was ‘full of anger and division’, but pledged: ‘Nobody will be left by the wayside.’
Mr Macron arrived at a rally on the Champ de Mars, underneath the Eiffel Tower, an hour-and-a-half after the result was called.
To rapturous cheers and applause, he held hands with his wife, Brigitte Macron, as Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – the European Union anthem – blasted out of speakers.
Making his way up to the stage with a giant screen behind it, he said: ‘Thank you!
‘Thank you, dear friends, fellow citizens, here tonight in Paris, and everywhere in France and our overseas territories and abroad, before anything else let me say thank you.
After five years of difficult but happy transformation and exception challenged this date – 24 April 2024 – a majority amongst us chose me to pilot the Republic for the next five years.’
Wearing his trademark blue suit and tie, he continued: ‘Together we can make France more independent and Europe stronger. By freeing our creativity, we can make France a great, green nation.
‘I know a lot of people voted for me tonight, not because of my ideals, but to block the far-Right. I have been entrusted with their sense of duty for the next five years.’
He added, to boos, that he ‘thought of Ms Le Pen and her supporters,’ but added: ‘No booing I don’t want to hear that.
‘Because from now on I am no longer the candidate for a party. I’m everyone’s President’.
‘I understand the anger that prompted people to vote far-Right, that will be my responsibility.’
He said ‘Our own project is a humanist one, for the whole Republic.’
Conceding defeat, Ms Le Pen told supporters at her campaign HQ in Paris: ‘We could have seen a great wind of freedom sweeping across this country, but the French people have said otherwise.
‘When we see the results of tonight’s election, we can nevertheless say we have been victorious. Millions have voted for us, and I want to thank all of them.’
Saying her National Rally party would remain a counterbalance to Mr Macron, Ms Le Pen said: ‘Those who voted for me overwhelmingly in this second round – I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. We will continue to defend the citizens of France, now like never before.’
In response to the result, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, tweeted: ‘Dear @Emmanuel Macron, congratulations on your re-election as President of the Republic. I look forward to continuing our excellent cooperation. Together, we will move France and Europe forward.’
Boris Johnson said: ‘Congratulations to @Emmanuel Macron 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.’
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, added: ‘My heartfelt congratulations to @Emmanuel Macron, who has just been re-elected President of France.
‘I am pleased that we can continue our broad and good cooperation within the EU and NATO in the coming years. I look forward to further strengthening the excellent relationship.’
By 7pm on Sunday, the turnout of those eligible to vote in the Macron-Le Pen second round was just 72% – the lowest since 1969.
This was the year Charles de Gaulle resigned as head of state and only 69% turned up to vote Georges Pompidou into power.
This year’s abstention figure was 2.6% higher than in 2017 – when Mr Macron first beat Ms Le Pen to seal his first term.
Mr Macron is a passionate supporter of the EU and now hopes to go on to become de-facto leader of the bloc, following the retirement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He will also be bracing himself for more rows with the British over a range of issues including the migrant boat crisis and English Channel fishing rights.
Despite constantly leading the opinion polls, Macron had warned of a possible defeat comparable to Donald Trump winning the American presidency.
Macron – who once compared Britain’s democratic vote to leave the EU as ‘a crime’ – had also suggested that a low turnout might have seen him robbed of power.
Just before his re-election, Mr Macron said: ‘We must get used to far-Right ideas’.
He conceded that Ms Le Pen’s party – the National Rally – had increased its share of the vote since 2017, when he beat Ms Le Pen by a landslide 66%.
But he also said Ms Le Pen was unfit to replace him because her party was still paying money back to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
‘War is raging on the continent,’ he said during a TV debate last Wednesday, before snarling at Ms Le Pen: ‘You are in fact in Russia’s grip.’