ADDIS ABABA – Emmanuel Macron has won five more years as France’s president after a convincing 58.55% to 41.45% victory over rival Marine Le Pen.
His supporters erupted with joy on Sunday as the results appeared on a giant screen at the Champ de Mars park by the Eiffel tower.
He is the first sitting president in 20 years to be re-elected. Le Pen’s result also marks the closest the far right has ever come to taking power in France and has revealed a deeply divided nation.
In his victory speech, the 44-year-old promised to address the sense of many French that their living standards are slipping.
“Many in this country voted for me not because they support my ideas but to keep out those of the far-right. I want to thank them and know I owe them a debt in the years to come,” Macron said.
He also pledged to address the “anger and the disagreements” that led to many French voters choosing the extreme right, saying “this will be my responsibility and that of those around me”.
“No one in France will be left by the wayside,” he continued, pledging to be a “president for all”
Turnout was just under 72%, reported the BBC, calling it the lowest in a presidential run-off since 1969.
A estimated 28.2% of the electorate did not cast their votes, according to the exit polls by Franceinfo. Some 6.35% voters in the election meanwhile voted for neither candidate in blank ballots, while 2.25% spoiled their papers.
Anti-Macron demonstrators rallied in a number of cities, including Paris, Rennes, Toulouse and Nantes, refusing to accept the result.
Outside France, Macron’s victory was hailed as a reprieve for mainstream politics rocked in recent years by Britain’s exit from the European Union, and the rise of a new generation of nationalist leaders.
“Bravo Emmanuel,” European Council President Charles Michel, wrote on Twitter. “In this turbulent period, we need a solid Europe and a France totally committed to a more sovereign and more strategic European Union.”
“Democracy wins, Europe wins,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi hailed Macron’s victory as “splendid news for all of Europe” and a boost to the EU “being a protagonist in the greatest challenges of our times, starting with the war in Ukraine”.
African leaders also congratulated Macron on his re-election.
Reaction from Africa
Senegal’s President Macky Sall, the current African Union chairman, sent his best wishes for Macron’s re-election.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda tweeted out “Congratulations on your well-deserved re-election” President Macron.
“This is a testament to your visionary leadership that seeks to unite and not divide,” he tweeted. “Rwanda looks forward to even more and stronger partnerships between our people and nations.”
Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed also congratulated Macron for his victory.
“Congratulations to my good friend President Macron on your successful and historical reelection,” Abiy wrote on twitter. “I look forward to the continued strengthened relations between our two countries.”
– Sources: EM/AJ/News Agencies
Featured Image Caption: Macron supporters at the Champ de Mars in Paris react after the release of projected results [Photo Ludovic Marin/AFP]