Emmanuel Macron pledges change after defeating Marine Le Pen in French election

Macron's supporters erupted with joy as the results appeared on a giant screen at the Champ de Mars park by the Eiffel tower

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Emmanuel Macron comfortably defeated rival Marine Le Pen on Sunday, heading off a political earthquake for Europe but acknowledging dissatisfaction with his first term and saying he would seek to make amends.

Emmanuel Macron defeated Le Pen comfortably on Sunday.
Emmanuel Macron defeated Le Pen comfortably on Sunday.

His supporters erupted with joy as the results appeared on a giant screen at the Champ de Mars park by the Eiffel tower.

Leaders in Berlin, Brussels, London and beyond welcomed his defeat of the nationalist, eurosceptic Le Pen.

Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that many only voted for him to keep Le Pen out.
Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that many only voted for him to keep Le Pen out.

With 97% of votes counted, Macron was on course for a solid 57.4% of the vote, interior ministry figures showed. But in his victory speech he acknowledged that many had only voted for him only to keep Le Pen out and he promised to address the sense of many French that their living standards are slipping.

"Many in this country voted for me not because they support my ideas but to keep out those of the far-right. I want to thank them and know I owe them a debt in the years to come," he said.

Marine Le Pen pledged to "never abandon" the French.
Marine Le Pen pledged to "never abandon" the French.

"No one in France will be left by the wayside," he said in a message that had already been spread by senior ministers doing the rounds on French TV stations.

Two years of disruption from the pandemic and surging energy prices exacerbated by the Ukraine war catapulted economic issues to the fore of the campaign. The rising cost of living has become an increasing strain for the poorest in the country.

"He needs to be closer to the people and to listen to them," digital sales worker Virginie, 51, said at the Macron rally, adding he needed to overcome a reputation for arrogance and soften a leadership style Macron himself called "Jupiterian".

Le Pen, who at one stage of the campaign had trailed Macron by just a few points in opinion polls, quickly admitted defeat. But she vowed to keep up the fight with parliamentary elections in June.

"I will never abandon the French," she told supporters chanting "Marine! Marine!"