PARIS (AP/CBS) – French far-right leader Marine Le Pen says she has called centrist Emmanuel Macron to congratulate him and says the vote confirms her National Front party and its allies as the leader of France’s opposition.
Minutes after the first results were released, Le Pen said she would call for a new political force as legislative elections loom in June.
Le Pen received 35 percent of the votes cast for a candidate, according to polling agency projections, compared with 65 percent for Macron.
She hinted that her party may rename itself from the National Front, which has been dogged by allegations of racism and anti-Semitism since it was founded by her father.
In a speech, France’s president-elect Emmanuel Macron acknowledged divisions in society he says drove people to “vote to the extreme” and says he will work for all of France.
Macron, whose far-right opponent Marine Le Pen had called for leaving the European Union and returning France to the franc currency, says that he will defend both France and Europe as president.
The 39-year-old former banker, who served as finance minister under the unpopular President Francois Hollande, briefly acknowledged his onetime mentor.
But not once cracking a smile in the short speech, Macron says that he needed to look forward for the sake all of France.
The candidates’ polar-opposite visions presented the 47 million registered voters with the starkest possible choice. Le Pen’s closed borders faced off against Macron’s open ones; his commitment to free trade ran against her proposals to protect the French from global economic competition and immigration. Her desire to free France from the EU and the shared euro currency contrasted with his argument that both are essential for the future of Europe’s third-largest economy.
A Macron victory marks the third time in six months — following elections in Austria and the Netherlands — that European voters have shot down far-right populists who want to restore borders across Europe.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)