France’s Macron is reelected but far-right rival raises game

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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron comfortably won reelection to a second term Sunday, according to polling agencies’ projections. The result offered France and the European Union the reassurance of leadership stability in the bloc’s only nuclear-armed power as the continent grapples with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A second five-year term for Macron spares France and its allies the seismic upheaval of a wartime shift of power to Macron’s populist challenger Marine Le Pen, who quickly acknowledged her defeat Sunday night but still appeared on course for a best-ever showing for her fiercely nationalist far-right policies.

During her campaign, Le Pen pledged to dilute French ties with the 27-nation EU, the NATO military alliance and Germany, moves that would have shaken Europe’s security architecture as the continent deals with its worst conflict since World War II. Le Pen spoke out against the imposition of sanctions on Russian energy supplies, and was questioned about her past friendship with the Kremlin.

Numerous European leaders quickly congratulated Macron. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that “together we will make France and Europe advance.” The Dutch prime minister tweeted his hopes to “continue our extensive and constructive cooperation in the EU and NATO.”

Polling agencies’ projections, released as the last voting stations closed, said Macron was on course to beat his rival by a double-digit margin. As the first projections of Macron’s win were broadcast, hundreds of Macon supporters gathered at the Eiffel Tower to sing the national song and wave French and European flags.

Five years ago, Macron won a sweeping victory over Le Pen to become France’s youngest president at 39. It is likely that the margin will be much smaller this time. Polling agencies Opinionway Harris and Ifop predicted that Macron, a pro-European centrist of 44 years, would win at least 57%.

Le Pen was projected to win between 41.5% and 43% support — a still unprecedented result for the 53-year-old on her third attempt to win the French presidency. Le Pen called her results “a shining victory,” saying that “in this defeat, I can’t help but feel a form of hope.”

She and hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who placed third in the first round of voting on April 10 and was among 10 presidential candidates eliminated that day, both quickly pitched forward to France’s legislative election in June, urging voters to give them a parliamentary majority to hamstring Macron.

Early official results in France’s presidential runoff are expected later Sunday night.

If the projections hold, Macron would become only the third president since the 1958 founding of modern France to win twice at the ballot box, and the first in 20 years, since incumbent Jacques Chirac trounced Le Pen’s father in 2002.

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