French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen to win re-election Sunday, with projections as polls closed showing him winning 58% to 42%.
Why it matters: Macron is the first French president in 20 years to win a second term. While polls consistently showed him in the lead, there will be relief in Washington and Brussels as his victory is confirmed.
- A Le Pen victory would have been a major blow to EU cooperation, particularly on Ukraine.
- Turnout was estimated at around 72%, the lowest in decades but only 2% lower than in 2017, when Macron beat Le Pen 66% to 34%.
The latest: Le Pen conceded defeat but said the results showed there were “winds of change afoot,” and she would continue to “stand up for the French people,” and against Macron, whom she said would “destroy France” with his policies.
- She said her party would fight hard in June’s legislative elections. That’s the next major test for Macron, whose party won a majority in 2017 but might struggle to do so again.
The big picture: The rising cost of living and the war in Russia dominated the campaign.
- While Le Pen has attempted to rebrand herself and party in recent years, Macron emphasized on the campaign trail that her far-right positions would divide France. He warned Le Pen’s plan to ban headscarves for Muslim women could “create a civil war.” He also hit her hard over her ties to Russia during their debate on Wednesday.
- The election is a “referendum for or against a secular, united, indivisible Republic,” Macron said on Friday, the final day of campaigning.
- For her part, Le Pen attempted to make the case that she better understood the struggles of voters and capitalized on criticism of Macron as “president of the rich.”
How it happened: Le Pen narrowed Macron’s once-formidable lead ahead of the first round on April 1o, when Macron finished first with 28% to Le Pen’s 23%.