Emmanuel Macron against Marine Le Pen

If Macron’s victory is confirmed, he will likely continue with his reformist agenda.

Louise Delmotte | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Frenchman Emmanuel Macron looks set to comfortably beat far-right rival Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s election, securing a second term as president on his pro-business, pro-EU agenda.

Centrist Macron of the La République en Marche party is expected to win around 58% in the second and final round of voting, according to a flurry of exit polls and projections, with Marine Le Pen of the nationalist and far-right National Rally party on 42%.

Immediately after the screenings, Le Pen addressed his supporters in Paris and accepted defeat. She said her result was a “victory” for her political movement and spoke of the general elections to be held in June.

“The French have shown tonight a desire for a strong counterweight against Emmanuel Macron, an opposition that will continue to defend and protect them,” she said, according to a Reuters translation.

Despite Macron’s announced victory, the margin represents a smaller gap between the two candidates compared to the 2017 election, where Macron won with 66.1% of the vote.

Voter apathy

The 2022 campaign unfolded against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a cost-of-living crisis in France, growing support for the far left among younger generations and suggestions of widespread voter apathy. Turnout on Sunday was 2 percentage points lower than in the 2017 elections, according to the Interior Ministry.

At the start of the election campaign, Macron, 44, benefited from his attitude and diplomatic efforts in the face of the Russian-Ukrainian war. But that support dissipated in the days leading up to the first round of voting on April 10, as French citizens focused heavily on home affairs and soaring inflation.

Marine Le Pen – who has now run three times for the French presidency – has chosen to distance herself from her previous rhetoric on the European Union and euro integration and instead focus on voters’ economic struggles French.

Putin links

Nonetheless, as the second round of voting approached, scrutiny of the two individuals and their policies intensified. During a two-hour televised debate on Wednesday, Macron referred to Le Pen’s previous ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being dependent on Moscow.

Macron said on Friday that Le Pen’s plan to ban Muslim women from wearing the headscarf in public would spark a “civil war”.

If Macron’s victory is confirmed, it would make him the first French president in two decades to win a second term. He will seek to continue his reformist agenda, recently promising to help France achieve full employment and raise the country’s retirement age from 62 to 65.

Frédéric Leroux, head of the cross-asset team at French fund manager Carmignac, said Macron’s clear victory is likely to reassure markets.

“In the short term, the main logical beneficiary of this election could be the euro, which was still flirting last Friday with two-year lows against the dollar,” he said in a flash research note after the projections. .

“The negative aspect for the markets of this rather comfortable election could, however, come from a quick decision in favor of a Russian oil embargo which would aggravate inflationary pressures and the economic slowdown (stagflation scenario) in Europe”, he said. -he adds.

Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, said the result was “some of the best news for Europe since the European Central Bank ended the euro crisis almost 10 years ago in July 2012”.

“As a second term for Macron has been widely expected, the outcome may not move markets much,” he said in a research note, adding that France “will most likely remain an engine of growth and progress in Europe for the next five years”. .”

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