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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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IMMIGRATION

French police clear Channel migrant camps after violence leaves one dead

Police dismantled a camp housing hundreds of migrants near Dunkirk in northern France on Wednesday after one person was killed and three wounded in suspected score-settling between smugglers, authorities said.

French police clear Channel migrant camps after violence leaves one dead

Around 500 people, mainly Iraqi Kurds, had been living at the wooded site in Loon-Plage, near a canal that often serves as a key launching point for boats hoping to cross the English Channel for Britain.

Buses stood by to bring the migrants to shelters, but most left instead on foot, carrying what belongings they could.

On Monday night, one migrant was shot and killed and another wounded by what volunteer aid workers described as machine gun fire, the day after two others were also shot and wounded, one seriously.

Ammunition from “weapons of war” were found, Dunkirk’s state prosecutor Sebastian Pieve had told AFP on Tuesday, and a clash between rival smuggling groups was “a theory, but it’s not easy to establish”.

“But it’s certain that human trafficking is the backdrop to this,” he said.

Dawan, a 32-year-old Kurd, would say only “mafia, mafia” when asked by AFP about the shootings.

He said he had recently paid €1,600 to a smuggler who said he would get him to England after spending five months in France, but the man disappeared the next day.

Claire Millot of the Salam migrant aid group said most volunteer associations had quit operating at Loon-Plage out of security fears, adding that Africans and other nationalities had recently been seen in an area usually occupied mainly by Kurds.

More than 7,000 migrants have managed to cross the busy shipping lane and reach the British coast since January, after the number of arrivals tripled to over 28,000 last year — which saw at least 30 migrants die while trying.

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