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Emmanuel Macron expected to win the second term of the French president

Reconnaissance agencies predicted that French President Emmanuel Macron had comfortably won re-election on Sunday in the second round of the presidential election and offered French voters and the European Union reassurance of leadership stability in the bloc’s only nuclear-armed power when the continent struggled with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Macron’s second five-year term, if confirmed by official results later on Sunday, will save France and its allies in Europe beyond the seismic shocks of wartime. Macron’s rival, far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, quickly admitted it on Sunday night.

Her campaign pledged to dilute France’s relations with the 27-nation EU, the NATO military alliance and Germany, and if it won, it would shake European security architecture as the continent faces the worst conflict since World War II. Le Pen also opposed sanctions on Russia’s energy supply and faced scrutiny during her election campaign over her previous friendship with the Kremlin.

Electoral agency projections published at the closure of the last polling stations said Macron was well on his way to beating Le Pen with a double-digit difference. Five years ago, Macron won a sovereign victory and became France’s youngest president at the age of 39. The gap is expected to be much smaller this time: opinion polls Opinionway, Harris and Ifop expected a 44-year-old pro-European centrist to win. at least 57 percent of the vote.

Le Pen was expected to gain support between 41.5% and 43%, still an unprecedented result for the 53-year-old woman in her third attempt to win the French presidency.

Far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen leaves a polling station in Henin-Beaumont in northern France on Sunday. (Thomas Samson / AFP / Getty Images)

The first official results are expected on Sunday evening.

If the projection comes true, Macron will be the third president since the founding of modern France in 1958, winning twice at the polls, and the first in 20 years, since incumbent Jacques Chirac defeated Father Le Pen in 2002.

Le Pen’s score this time rewarded her year-round efforts to make her far-right policy more pleasant for voters. She campaigned hard on the cost of living and penetrated deeply among working-class voters in disgruntled rural communities and former industrial centers.

Breaking the 40 percent or more mark is unprecedented for the French far right. In 2017, Macron beat Le Pen from 66 percent to 34 percent. And her father got less than 20 percent against Chirac.

‘least worst choice’

Several hundred of Macron’s supporters gathered in front of the Eiffel Tower, singing the national anthem and waving French and European flags, while television stations broadcast introductory projections of his victory.

The expected decline in Macron’s support compared to five years ago, however, shows what is expected to be a tough fight for the president to gather people for himself in his second term.

Many French voters found retaliation in 2022 less convincing than in 2017, when Macron was an unknown factor because it had never held an elected office before.

Macron’s supporters react to the Champ de Mars in Paris on Sunday. (Bertrand Guay / AFP / Getty Images)

Left-wing voters – unable to identify with either the centrist president or Le Pen’s fiercely nationalist platform – often struggled with Sunday’s election. Some reluctantly rushed to the polls just to stop Le Pen and cast unhappy voices for Macron.

“It was the least worst choice,” said Stephanie David, a transport logistics worker who supported the Communist candidate in the first round.

It was an impossible choice for the retired Jean-Pierre Roux. After also voting for the Communists in the first round, he threw an empty envelope into the ballot box on Sunday, which was repulsed by both Le Pen’s politics and what he considered Macron’s arrogance.

A polling station is visible in Lyon, central France. (Laurent Cipriani / The Associated Press)

“I’m not against his ideas, but I can’t stand the man,” Roux said.

Macron went to the polls by a considerable lead in the polls, but he could not be sure of a victory from fragmented, anxious and tired voters. The war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted Macron’s first term, as well as months of violent protests against his economic policy. The tremors created fertile ground for Le Pen.

Marian Arbre, voting in Paris, cast his vote for Macron, “to avoid a government between fascists and racists.”

“It’s a real risk,” the 29-year-old said angrily.

Closely watched race

Given that the EU has a single seat on the UN Security Council and a single nuclear arsenal, the outcome in France has been followed by the entire 27-nation bloc as it faces the aftermath of the Ukrainian war.

France plays a leading role in international efforts to punish Russia with sanctions and supplies arms systems to Ukraine. Le Pen’s ties to Russia became a topic during the campaign, raising questions about how she would deal with the Kremlin if elected.

Earlier that day, Le Pen voted in the northern city of Henin-Beaumont, in the former industrial heart of France, which is struggling, while Macron voted in the English Channel resort of Le Touquet.

A French citizen cast his vote on Saturday in a polling station in Montreal. (Christinne Muschi / Reuters)

Le Pen turned to working-class voters struggling with rising prices and promised that if elected, her priority would be to reduce the cost of living. She argued that Macron’s presidency left the country deeply divided and pointed to a yellow vest protest movement that shook his government before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macron sought to reach out to immigrant heritage and religious minorities, especially because of Le Pen’s policies aimed at Muslims and put French citizens first in terms of jobs and benefits.

Macron also promoted its environmental and climate success to attract young voters who supported left-wing candidates in the first round but were often dissatisfied with the second round. Macron said his next prime minister would be in charge of environmental planning as France sought to become carbon neutral by 2050.