No smiles from Macron after win

2017-05-07 22:01
Supporters of French president-elect, Emmanuel Macron, celebrate his win at the Louvre in Paris. (Laurent Cipriani, AP)

Supporters of French president-elect, Emmanuel Macron, celebrate his win at the Louvre in Paris. (Laurent Cipriani, AP)

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Paris - France's president-elect Emmanuel Macron on Sunday night acknowledged divisions in society he says drove people to "vote to the extreme" and says he will work for all of France.

Macron, whose far-right opponent Marine Le Pen had called for leaving the European Union and returning France to the franc currency, said he would defend both France and Europe as president.

The 39-year-old former banker, who served as finance minister under the unpopular President Francois Hollande, briefly acknowledged his onetime mentor.

But not once cracking a smile in the short speech, Macron said he needed to look forward for the sake all of France.

It was less a victory speech than one of acknowledgement of the task ahead for Macron, who was projected to win 65% of votes cast for a candidate, compared with 35% for Le Pen.

Brexit

Macron takes charge of a nation that, when Britain leaves the EU in 2019, will become the EU's only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

He has promised a France that would stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that also would seek to work with the Russian leader on what he says will be one of his top priorities: fighting the Islamic State group, whose extremists have claimed or inspired multiple attacks in France since 2015.

France has been in a state of emergency since then and 50 000 security forces were used to safeguard Sunday's vote.

Macron is expected to keep up French military operations against extremists in Iraq and Syria and Africa's Sahel region, and maintain pressure on Russia over Ukraine and support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

With the US, Macron said he wanted continued intelligence-sharing and co-operation at the United Nations, and hopes to persuade Trump not to pull the US out of a global emissions-cutting deal against climate change.

Domestically, Macron inherits a deeply troubled and divided nation of 67 million people. The French are riven by anxieties about terrorism and chronic unemployment, and worried about the cultural, economic and religious impact of immigration.

His proposed remedies include both economic reforms and his own infectious, upbeat optimism that France need not resign itself to continuing economic and social decline, especially as part of an EU competing together against other powers.

Le Pen

Meanwhile, despite her loss, Le Pen's advancement to the runoff for the first time marked a breakthrough for the 48-year-old.

She had placed third in the 2012 presidential vote, underscoring a growing acceptance for her fierce anti-immigration, France-first nationalism among disgruntled voters.

Le Pen immediately turned her focus to France's upcoming legislative elections in June, where Macron will need a working majority to govern effectively.

"I call on all patriots to join us," she said. "France will need you more than ever in the months ahead."

Read more on:    emmanuel macron  |  france

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