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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

‘My responsibility’: Macron vows response to anger of far-right voters

Newly re-elected Emmanuel Macron said in his victory speech on Sunday night that it was his responsibility to find a response to the anger of those French voters who backed the far-right - or who didn't vote at all.

'My responsibility': Macron vows response to anger of far-right voters
French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron celebrate after his victory in France's presidential election, at the Champ de Mars in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Macron spoke on a stage at the Eiffel Tower to jubilant supporters not long after projected results declared him the winner of the 2022 presidential election.

The victory – by a projected score of roughly 58 percent to 42 percent – means Macron is the first French president in 20 years to be re-elected.

As in 2017 Macron walked on stage to the sound of Ode to Joy by Beethoven, which is the EU anthem. But he wasn’t in a triumphalist mood given the record score of the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

“After five years of transformation and of both difficult and happy times, a majority of you have placed your trust in me to lead our republic for the five years to come,” he told the victory rally in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Supporters react after the victory of French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron in France’s presidential election, at the Champ de Mars, in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

“I know a lot of our compatriots voted for me because they supported my ideas but also to block the path to power of the far right. I want to thank them and tell them I’m aware of the responsibility their vote puts on me in the years to come,” he said.

On those who voted for Le Pen, Macron said: “I’m no longer a candidate from one camp but the president of all. 

“An answer must be found to the anger and disagreements that led many of our compatriots to vote for the far right. It will be my responsibility and that of those around me,” he said.

Macron also pledged a “renewed method” to govern France, adding that this “new era” would not be one of “continuity with the last term which is now ending”.

French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron celebrates after his victory in France’s presidential election, at the Champ de Mars in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

“That is my responsibility and the responsibility of those around me,” said Macron, gesturing to the crowd not to boo when he mentioned far-right voters.

He also acknowledged that he must find an answer as well for all those who didn’t cast a ballot.

“Today you chose an ambitious humanist project for the independence of our country and for Europe, ambitious in its ecological and social values, a project founded on work and creativity,” said Macron.

French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron celebrates after his victory in France’s presidential election, at the Champ de Mars in Paris, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by bERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

“I want to push forward with this project in the years to come, taking into account opposition and with respect to any differences.”

The 44-year-old, who came to power as France’s youngest ever president, secured victory promising more pro-business and welfare reforms but with a “new method” that is expected to be less top-down.

He had billed Sunday’s vote as a chance to “save the Republic” from the clutches of far-right rival Marine Le Pen, but will now face a challenge of uniting a highly fractured country.

Unveiling the essence of his programme for a second term in March, Macron offered a blunt message for a country famed for its lifestyle and long holidays, saying: “We have to work more.”

Macron’s wife Brigitte, who accompanied him to the rally, said: “France is the most beautiful country in the world, the problem is that we don’t always know it.

“I feel an immense emotion – and such a great honour that I can only hope to be worthy of. I have every confidence in my husband; he has a vision for the country and he will make it work.”

If he completes his second term, the voracious reader will be only 49 and is expected to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.

“I’m building up stories,” he told Le Point magazine last week.

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POLITICS

‘I’ve lost my eyebrows – but not my political ambition’, says France’s ex PM

France's former prime minister Edouard Philippe, a leading contender to succeed President Emmanuel Macron in 2027 elections, has opened up about a hair loss condition he says will not diminish his political ambition.

'I've lost my eyebrows - but not my political ambition', says France's ex PM

The 52-year-old politician, who spearheaded the government’s fight against the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, was a familiar face on television with his trademark brown beard.

Since leaving the post in the summer of 2020 and working as mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre, his appearance has drastically changed with his hair and beard thinning and turning white suddenly.

“This is what had happened to me: I lost my eyebrows, and I don’t think they will come back,” he told BFMTV in an interview late Thursday.

“My beard has turned white, it’s falling out a bit and the hair too.

“The moustache is gone, I don’t know if it will come back, but I would be surprised,” he said.

“I have what is called alopecia,” he added, opening up about the auto-immune condition that accelerates hair loss.

He said the condition was “not painful, dangerous, contagious or serious”.

Philippe’s wry and avuncular style proved popular with many French and some speculated that his high approval ratings had caused tensions with Macron, with replaced him as Prime Minister in the summer of 2020.

Philippe now regularly tops polls of France’s most-loved and most-trusted politicians. 

He has now founded a new centrist party called Horizons that is allied with Macron’s ruling faction but also unafraid of showing an independent streak.

Some analysts see Philippe as an obvious potential successor to Macron, who must leave office after serving the maximum two terms in 2027.

And Philippe insisted that his condition would not stand in the way of his political plans.

“That doesn’t stop me from being extremely ambitious for my city,” he said referring to Le Havre.

Tellingly, he added: “It doesn’t stop me from being extremely ambitious for my country.”

With France buffeted by strikes and protests as the government seeks to push through landmark pension reform, Philippe gave his full backing to Macron for the changes.

He said he supported the changes “without ambiguity, without any bad note or any other kind of little complication”.

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