Macron holds back far-right push in France election: live results and updates

Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

PARIS — Emmanuel Macron won a second term as president of France, triumphing on Sunday over Marine Le Pen, his far-right challenger, after a campaign in which his promise of stability prevailed over the temptation of an extremist swerve.

Projections at the end of the vote, which are generally reliable, showed that Mr. Macron, a centrist, won 58.5% of the vote against 41.5% for Mrs. Le Pen. Her victory was much narrower than in 2017, when the margin was 66.1% to Ms Le Pen’s 33.9%, but wider than it probably looked two weeks ago.

Addressing a crowd gathered on the Champ de Mars in front of a glittering Eiffel Tower, a solemn Mr Macron said it was a victory for “a more independent France and a stronger Europe”. At the same time, he acknowledged “the anger that was expressed” during a tough campaign and that he had a duty to “respond effectively”.

Ms Le Pen conceded defeat in her third bid to become president, but bitterly criticized Mr Macron’s “brutal and violent methods”. She vowed to continue to fight for a large number of representatives in the June legislative elections, saying that “the French expressed this evening their desire for a strong counter-power to Emmanuel Macron”.

At a critical time in Europe, as fighting rages in Ukraine after the Russian invasion, France has rejected a candidate hostile to NATO, the European Union, the United States and its core values ​​that no French citizen should be discriminated against because they are Muslims.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defense, said the result reflected “the mobilization of the French to maintain their values ​​and against a narrow vision of France”.

The French generally dislike their presidents, and none had managed to be re-elected since 2002. Mr Macron’s unusual achievement in securing five more years in power reflects his effective handling of the Covid-19 crisis, his revival of the economy, and its political agility to occupy the entire center of the political spectrum.

Ms Le Pen, softening her image if not her anti-immigrant nationalist agenda, rode a wave of alienation and disenchantment to bring the far right closer to power than at any time since 1944. Her National Rally party joined the mainstream, although at the last minute many French people seem to have voted for Mr. Macron to ensure that France does not succumb to the xenophobic vitriol of the darkest passages of its history.

Ms Le Pen is a longtime supporter of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, whom she visited in the Kremlin during his last campaign in 2017. She would almost certainly have pursued policies that weakened the allied united front to save Ukraine from Russia’s onslaught, offered Mr. Putin a loophole to exploit in Europe, and undermined the European Union, whose engine has always been the joint Franco-German commitment in its favour. .

If Brexit had dealt a blow to unity, a quasi-French nationalist exit, as spelled out in Ms Le Pen’s proposals, would have left the European Union on life support. This, in turn, would have crippled a key guarantor of peace on the continent at a volatile moment.

Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, said Mr Macron’s victory was “a vote of confidence in Europe”. Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, praised the French leader and called France “one of our closest and most important allies”.

Mr. Scholz and two other European leaders had this week taken the unusual step of specifying the importance of a vote against Mrs. Le Pen in an opinion piece in the daily Le Monde. The letter was a reflection of the anxiety in European capitals and in Washington leading up to the vote.

“It’s the choice between a Democratic candidate, who believes that France is stronger in a powerful and autonomous European Union, and a far-right candidate, who openly sides with those who attack our freedom and our democracy. – core values ​​that come directly from the French Enlightenment,” they wrote.

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