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Macron Wins France's Presidential Election While Le Pen Claims Symbolic Victory

French electorate gives Emmanuel Macron five more years as president, but voter apathy and protest ballots signify a divided nation.
Macron Wins France's Presidential Election While Le Pen Claims Symbolic Victory

The final round of the French presidential election was held on Sunday, and Emmanuel Macron won five more years as the nation's president after a 58.54% to 41.46% victory over rival Marine Le Pen.

"As the first sitting president in 20 years to be re-elected," writes Paul Kirby for BBC News, "the centrist leader told jubilant supporters at the foot of the Eiffel Tower that now the election was over he would be a president for all."

However, Le Pen told her supporters that her significant vote share still marked a victory, and the ideas her National Rally represented had reached new heights. According to BBC News, "Marine Le Pen took over the party founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011 in a bid to make it electable. She won more than 13 million votes on Sunday, on a platform of tax cuts to tackle the high cost of living, a ban on wearing the Muslim headscarf in public and a referendum on immigration controls."

French election result: Macron defeats Le Pen and vows to unite divided France (Paul Kirby - BBC News)

Excerpt from BBC News: More than one in three voters did not vote for either candidate. Turnout was just under 72%, the lowest in a presidential run-off since 1969, and more than three million people cast spoilt or blank votes. Much of France was on holiday on the day of the vote, but the low turnout also reflected the apathy of voters who complained neither candidate represented them. Voters who said they were casting blank ballots told the BBC they wanted to punish the sitting president.
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In a related article from BBC News, Lucy Williamson reports, "Ms. Le Pen has expanded her party's appeal over the past decade, tailoring her economic policies to reach struggling, working voters disillusioned with the left. She's also spent years trying to soften her image and rid the National Rally of its toxic history, thanks to the anti-Semitism of her father and party founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen."

France election: Marine Le Pen concedes election but still counts a win (Lucy Williamson - BBC News)

Excerpt from BBC News: It's worked, in that her support has risen in this election. But, says Nonna Mayer, one of France's foremost experts on the far right, Marine Le Pen always faces the same limitations. "The main one is the lack of credibility," Dr Mayer told me. "She's fuzzy on several items [of policy], she doesn't convey the image of a leader, and she's still seen as a danger to democracy by 50% of the population."
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Amanda Taub from the New York Times writes, "A record number of abstentions, and a strictly binary choice for voters — many of whom said they were picking the lesser of two evils — are trouble signs even within a mature democracy." And "when Le Pen made the second round runoff of the French election, the contest took on the tenor of a hostage negotiation" with Macron arguing that Le Pen was an "existential threat to France."

The Unsettling Warning in France’s Election (Amanda Taub - New York Times)

Excerpt from the New York Times: [Regarding two important takeaways from the French election] ... The first is that Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate known for her warm relationship with Vladimir Putin and her hostility toward the European Union and immigrants, lost the election — but with the best showing that her party has ever had, carrying 41.5 percent of the second-round vote. The second is that Emmanuel Macron, the incumbent president from the center-right won the election — but with the lowest share of registered voters of any candidate since 1969, because of historically low turnout and high numbers of votes that were cast blank or spoiled in a show of protest.
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