Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

Le Pen calls for overhaul of her National Front party

Le Pen calls for overhaul of her National Front party

His victory brought a sigh of relief to the European Union, which Macron strongly supports; Le Pen had vowed to lead France out of the bloc.

"One third of the voters supported the nationalist, anti-EU and anti-globalisation candidacy of Marine Le Pen, and this will remain the main political opposition to the new president".

The President-elect said after the win he had heard "the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed" and vowed to spend his five years in office "fighting the forces of divisions that undermine France".

"We can only hope that France seizes its chance", Parisian Michael Jeuga said.

Despite losing to Mr Macron - securing just around 33.9 per cent of the vote compared with his 66.1 per cent - Ms Le Pen did almost twice as well as her father did when he reached the second round of the election in 2002, though she fell short of the 40 per cent party officials had said would be a success.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the French had chosen "liberty, equality and fraternity" and "said no to the tyranny of fake news".

For implementing his agenda, which is liberal - open to Europe, strong relations with Germany, reform of the economy, flexible on immigration and so on - he needs to have a parliamentary majority.

He wants to ease rigid labour laws he believes fuel high unemployment, cut state spending, improve education in deprived areas and increase welfare protection to the self-employed. His movement, En Marche, has to transform itself into a political party for the parliamentary elections due in June, just a month from now.

Philippe Braud, another political analyst, thinks on the contrary that "66 per cent against 34 is a major gap".

This accelerated procedure, bypassing parliament, could mean a fiery start to his term as France's highly activist unions would likely bring protests out onto the streets, as they did a year ago when Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls used the tactic.

The Prime Minister, who also sent a telegram of congratulations to Macron, stressed that Europe will need stability and constructive cooperation following Brexit, with France's role in this situation being irreplaceable.

Macron said before Sunday's vote he had made his choice but would not reveal the name.

The incoming president appeared alongside Mr Hollande in commemoration of the end of the Second World War.

The France Insoumise (France Unbowed) of firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon was trailing in fourth with 13-15 percent, ahead of the tattered Socialists of outgoing President Francois Hollande on eight-nine percent.

Ms Le Pen said she had called the 39-year-old to concede defeat after voters rejected her "French-first" nationalism by a large margin.

Several veteran Socialists have already said they are ready to work with him.

"The Socialist Party is dead and buried", Manuel Valls, a member of the party for almost 40 years said, told French radio station RTL.

Many people did not agree with what he was doing and became cross with him.

France's two-round voting system makes it hard to project the final result, with parliamentary elections often yielding several three-way races where two parties ally against a third, typically the National Front.

He said he would "guarantee the unity of the nation and ... defend and protect Europe".

Brussels was visibly relieved too at avoiding a Le Pen victory which could have threatened the very existence of the bloc after Britain's vote to leave. His wife, Brigitte, joined him on stage after his address.

French voters elected centrist Emmanuel Macron as the country's youngest president ever on Sunday, delivering a resounding victory to the unabashedly pro-European former investment banker and strengthening France's place as a central pillar of the European Union.

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