In his first speech since winning the French presidency Emmanuel Macron promised to fight the “the forces of division that undermine France.” This vow has come after he easily won the run-off for the presidency.
The centrist candidate was able to defeat the far right’s Marine Le Pen after winning a hugely impressive 66.1% of the vote.
In his acknowledgment speech Mr Macron made it clear to his supporters that he aimed to ensure Le Pen voters “no longer have a reason to vote for an extremist position”.
While much of France is breathing a sigh of relief at the election of Macron it’s in Brussels that the greatest sense of relief can be found.
Macron ran his campaign on a staunchly pro-EU platform, while Le Pen in contrast threatened to remove France from the Euro, and to hold an in or out referendum on France’s membership of the EU.
In his speech to a room packed with ecstatic supporters, Mr Macron said: “Tonight you won, France won. Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France.”
He is now the youngest French leader since Napoleon Bonaparte III and overturns the decades-long dominance of France’s two main political parties.
Yet the new president knows he will be facing a large amount of challenges in the near future. A third of voters chose Le Pen and more than that cast a blank ballot, showing a hatred of both candidates.
Macron was quick to attempt to limit this challenge, saying that he had heard “the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed”, he vowed to spend his five years in office “fighting the forces of division that undermine France”.
Macron will formally be sworn into his new role this coming Sunday according to outgoing president François Hollande.
On Monday both the president elect and his outgoing predecessor joined each other at the Arc de Triomphe as the two laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The two men then shook hands with a line of veterans, with Macron taking longer, he stopped to talk to a number of the elderly soldiers and left Hollande waiting for him at the end of the line, an act some on lookers described as an open declaration that there is now a new president of France.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted out “happy that the French chose a European future” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Mr Macron “carries the hopes of millions of French people, and of many people in Germany and the whole of Europe”. Those two tweets sum up the feelings of every EU leader as the cracks that threatened to tear France from the EU are patched up, at least for the time being.
Meanwhile the US President Donald Trump, who has previously praised Le Pen, tweeted out his congratulations to Macron for what he called a “big win” and went on to say he looked forward to working alongside him.
The Russian president Vladimir Putin likewise expressed his desire to work alongside the new French president amid the “growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism” he said it was important to “join forces to ensure international stability and security”.
This will not be the end of Macron’s campaigning duties however, there are parliamentary elections in June so the new French president will be right back out on the campaign trail on behalf of his new movement En Marche (On The Move), this has to be a successful campaign, he needs to get as many seats as he can in order to successfully pursue his legislative agenda.
En Marche was only formed a year ago and as of this moment has no presence at all in parliament; if he fails to gain enough seats he will be faced with the need to form a coalition, potentially limiting his power considerably.
Macron’s campaign pledges included cutting 120,000 public-sector jobs, reducing public spending by €60bn, and cutting down the unemployment rate from its current position of 10% to around 7%. He also promised to ease current labour laws and extend protections to the self-employed.
The question now is what happens to Le Pen, while she wasn’t able to achieve a victory she was able to do far better than critics expected at the beginning of the election race.
Le Pen was able to win almost double the amount of votes her father won back in 2002, which was the last time a far-right candidate had made it to the French president run-off.
And while she performed worse than some final polls had predicted, her anti-globalisation, anti-immigration, and her French nationalist agenda attached close to 11 million voters.
She said that despite the final outcome the election has shown a huge division between “patriots and globalists,” she also called for the emergence of a new political force to shape the future of French politics. She stated that the National Front needed to renew itself and called for the “deep transformation of our movement.” She vowed to lead the party into the upcoming parliamentary elections, hoping to gain enough power to pressure the new president.