European Leaders Relieved About Macron’s Re-Election

French President Emmanuel Macron celebrates with supporters in Paris on Sunday night. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron celebrates with supporters in Paris on Sunday night. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Paris ( – Congratulations have been pouring in after Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to win a second term in two decades, with European nations in particular welcoming his victory over European Union critic Marine Le Pen.

Macron won 58.55 percent of the votes to Le Pen’s 41.45 percent, a repeat of their 2017 runoff, although with a margin of victory reduced by half.

During a short campaign partly overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Macron focused largely on his domestic program but also laid out foreign policy positions designed to boost the E.U. in the international arena.

U.S. President Joe Biden in a phone call congratulated Macron, and “underscored the close and enduring relations between the United States and France, our oldest ally, based on shared democratic values, economic ties, and security cooperation,” the White House said in a readout.

“President Biden conveyed his readiness to continue working closely with President Macron on our shared global priorities.” 

Closer to home, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi  were among those welcoming the outcome.

Even Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Macron, wishing him “every success in state affairs, as well as good health and wellbeing,” according to a brief statement released by the Kremlin. Macron has sought to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv, with little progress seen.

Although Le Pen has said she no longer wants to leave the E.U. or abandon the euro, her image as a euroskeptic persists. She spoke while campaigning in favor of a “Europe of nations,” cooperating where interests converge, and referred to a rapprochement with Britain and reducing ties with Germany.

France holds the rotating presidency of the E.U. until June, and Macron has promised to work closely with members of the bloc to implement his pro-European foreign policy program, including a common defense vision.

He has spoken of the desire “to build a powerful Europe,” able to defend itself in case of conflicts involving one of or all E.U. countries.

Macron also wants industry, the digital sphere, space, and defense to be prioritized, to enable the bloc to compete on an equal footing with other leading powers. In a speech to supporters in central Paris on Sunday night, he promised to work towards achieving these goals.

“While the war in Ukraine is still raging, and France still holds the presidency of the Council of the E.U., Macron has a challenge to find the balance between the demanding international/European agenda and the more domestic concerns expressed by French citizens,” said Marie Jourdain, visiting fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center.

That he faces a challenging second term was made clear by two noteworthy elements in the election outcome – the lowest turnout in a French presidential election in half a century (estimated at 72 percent), and the strongest result for a far-right presidential candidate in the country’s history.

Pointing to the high abstention rate, political analysts said the electorate is evidently deeply divided, and this could affect his implementation of domestic and international programs.

Many voters appear to have backed Macron less for his policies than to prevent a far-right victory, Gérard Araud, Atlantic Council fellow and a former ambassador to Washington, commented in an analysis.

“Macron doesn’t have the mandate that the figures seem to promise,” he wrote.

Araud noted that Macron will need to secure a majority in parliamentary elections taking place in June. While voters in France typically give a majority to the person they have elected as their president, he said, this time could be different as both the left and right seek to prevent giving Macron’s En Marche party a majority.

Legislative elections are scheduled for June 12 and 19 to elect 577 members of the lower house.

If Macron’s party fails to win a majority he will have to appoint a prime minister from the largest party, which could again affect his ability to achieve his policy agenda.

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