French presidential election: Challenges are just beginning for Emmanuel Macron

19 Mai, 2017, 21:41 | Author: Lucrece Courtet

After Macron's victory, Trump tweeted congratulations shortly after 3pm Washington time on "his big win today as the next President of France".

Reflecting on Macron's victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential runoff on Sunday, Valls said it was a blow to populism in Europe that gave a "terrific" image of France overseas.

Already as economy minister, Macron had few political allies within the Socialist Party.

Final results from the interior ministry out Monday showed Macron - who will be France's youngest ever president - won 66.1 percent of the vote against 33.9 percent for Le Pen.

"The task that awaits us, my fellow citizens, is huge and it starts tomorrow", Macron said as thousands of supporters cheered and waved French flags.

"The Socialist Party is dead and buried", Manuel Valls, a member of the party for almost 40 years said, told French radio station RTL.

On the European Union, Macron is also an unashamed supporter, a standpoint likely to cost him votes on both the eurosceptic left and right.

The centrist's emphatic victory, which also smashed the dominance of France's mainstream parties, brings huge relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain's vote to quit the EU and Donald Trump's election as USA president.

Analysts said she looked set to maintain her grip on the National Front, despite criticism from some party members, including her own relatives, over her campaign.

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Claiming a "massive" result of 10.64 million votes - a record for the FN - she promised "a profound transformation" of the party to grow its appeal.

"I think we must speak to France about the real problems, demographic problems, problems of mass immigration", he said.

France's two-round voting system makes it hard to project the final result, with parliamentary elections often yielding several three-way races where two parties ally against a third, typically the National Front. The country's opposition parties meanwhile were more reticent.

Macron's main message has been his awareness of the divisions in French society. In an interview with RTL television, Mr Jean-Marie Le Pen said her euro policy derailed her campaign and she should have focused on immigration and security instead.

The notion that a new movement under Le Pen could lead to political alliances and entice new voters poses a challenge to Macron, who said during his victory speech that the anger and despair of far-right voters must be acknowledged.

"Macron is a giant with feet of clay, elected without real desire of enthusiasm", he said.

Macron, 39, is an avowed internationalist who speaks fluent English and envisions a France deeply integrated with Europe and open to the world.

He claims to be neither from the left nor right, but from the centre.

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