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French president Emmanuel Macron wins re-election

French President Emmanuel Macron, has been re-elected for a second term, defeating far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, with a solid margin, final results showed on Monday.

Macron won with 58.54% of the votes, though well below his 66.1% victory against Le Pen in their first duel in 2017, and very far from the 82% conservative Jacques Chirac won with in 2002, when most of France rallied behind him when the far-right first made it to the second round of France’s presidential election.

“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.

“We will have to be benevolent and respectful because our country is riddled with so many doubts, so many divisions”, Macron said in a late-night victory speech.

A second five-year term for the centrist Macron spares France and its allies the seismic upheaval of a wartime shift of power to Macron’s populist challenger, Marine Le Pen, who quickly acknowledged her defeat Sunday night, but still appeared on course for a best-ever showing for her fiercely nationalist far-right policies.

Many in Europe described the outcome of Sunday’s vote as a win for the European Union as a victory for Le Pen, a deeply eurosceptic politician, could have had huge implications for the stability of the bloc.

Le Pen had long flirted with the idea of leaving the EU, although she insisted during her campaign that she had no “secret agenda” this time for quitting the group or the euro single currency.

For his part, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, sent Macron a message of congratulations, Russian news agencies quoted the Kremlin as saying on Monday.

“I sincerely wish you success in governance, firm health and well-being”, Putin said in a telegram, which the Kremlin posted on its official website on Monday.

Similarly, China’s President, Xi Jinping, congratulated his French counterpart, saying he would “like to continue working with President Macron to maintain diplomatic relations based on independence, mutual understanding, foresight and mutual benefit.”

The Chinese leader added he has always viewed Chinese-French ties from a “strategic and long-term perspective”, saying the healthy and stable development of relations is increasingly important as the global arena undergoes “complex changes”.

European Council President, Charles Michel, as well as the prime ministers of Belgium and Luxembourg, were among the first to congratulate Macron, followed by almost all of the bloc’s 27 leaders, after his win over Marine Le Pen by a comfortable margin.

“Bravo Emmanuel. In this turbulent period, we need a solid Europe and a France totally committed to a more sovereign and more strategic European Union”, Michel tweeted.

Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, said Macron’s re-election was “wonderful news for all of Europe”, while German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said French voters “have sent a strong vote of confidence in Europe today.”

The leaders of Sweden, Romania, Lithuania, Finland, the Netherlands and Greece, as well as European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, all reacted within half an hour of the result with their congratulations.

“I look forward to continuing our extensive and constructive cooperation within the EU and NATO, and to further strengthening the excellent relationship between our countries”, Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte said.

Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, tweeted his congratulations to Macron.

“The citizens have chosen a France committed to a free, strong and fair EU. Democracy wins. Europe wins”,  Sanchez wrote. “Congratulations Emmanuel Macron.”

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the public face of Brexit for many Europeans, applauded the result, pledging cooperation with Macron and saying: “France is one of our closest and most important allies.”

United States President, Joe Biden, also hailed Macron’s victory. “France is our oldest ally and a key partner in addressing global challenges. I look forward to our continued close cooperation – including on supporting Ukraine, defending democracy, and countering climate change”, he said in a tweet.

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