French voters elected centrist Emmanuel Macron as the country’s youngest president ever on Sunday, delivering a resounding victory to the unabashedly pro-European former investment banker and strengthening France’s place as a central pillar of the European Union.
A crowd of Macron supporters roared with delight at the news, jubilantly waving red, white and blue tricolour flags at a victory party outside the Louvre Museum in Paris. Mr Macron's win ends the decades-long dominance of the two traditional main left-wing and right-wing parties.
He said that a new page was being turned in French history.
"I want it to be a page of hope and renewed trust," he said. Mr Macron said he had heard "the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed" and vowed to spend his five years in office "fighting the forces of division that undermine France".
He said he would "guarantee the unity of the nation and... defend and protect Europe." Mr Macron's supporters gathered in their thousands to celebrate outside the Louvre museum in central Paris and their new president later joined them.
In his speech to the crowd, he said: "Tonight you won, France won. Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don't know France."
But he repeated a number of times that the task facing him and the country was enormous.
He said: "We have the strength, the energy and the will - and we will not give in to fear."
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 United States, Macron says he wants continued intelligence-sharing and co-operation at the United Nations and hopes to persuade Trump not to pull the U.S. 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, worried about the cultural, economic and religious impact of immigration and fear France’s ability to compete against giants like China and Google.
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.
The campaign ended Friday night with a hacking attack and document leak targeting Macron. France’s government cybersecurity agency, ANSSI, is investigating. Macron’s team said the hack aimed to destabilize the vote. But the timing of the leak appeared too late to have a significant impact on voting intentions.
What does Mr Macron stand for?
He is a liberal centrist, pro-business and a strong supporter of the European Union.
He left the Socialist government of President François Hollande last August to form his new movement - En Marche - saying it was neither left nor right wing.
His campaign pledges included a 120,000 reduction in public-sector jobs, a cut in public spending by €60bn (£50bn; $65bn), and a lowering of the unemployment rate to below 7%.
He vowed to ease labour laws and give new protections to the self-employed.
Mr Macron also stood on a pro-EU platform, in stark contrast to his opponent. Often with Emmanuel Macron one fears that (in a way that is very French) it is words that are doing his work. Words that are bridging the divides; words that are flattering his opponents; words that create the devotion that, among some, he inspires.
In the campaign it became a joke among journalists how often his answers included the words "au meme temps" (at the same time). It was his way of marrying everything and its opposite, of reconciling every contradiction.
He got away with it because he is who he is.
But in the real life of running a fractious, angry, divided country - will his words have the same effect? Will his solitary self-belief create the structures of political support which he needs in the rough-and-tumble of government? Will his charm still work?
Last modified onMonday, 08 May 2017 16:37
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