PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to comfortably win reelection Sunday in a runoff, polling agencies projected, offering France and the European Union the reassurance of leadership stability in the bloc’s only nuclear-armed power as the continent grapples with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A second five-year term for Macron — if confirmed by official results later Sunday — would spare France and its allies in Europe and beyond the seismic upheaval of a wartime shift of power to Macron’s far-right nationalist challenger Marine Le Pen, who quickly acknowledged her defeat.
Her campaign had pledged to dilute French ties with the 27-nation EU, the NATO military alliance and Germany, moves that would have shaken Europe’s security architecture as the continent deals with its worst conflict since World War II. Le Pen also spoke out against sanctions on Russian energy supplies and faced scrutiny during the campaign over her previous friendliness with the Kremlin.
Polling agencies’ projections, released as the last voting stations closed, said Macron was on course to beat Le Pen by a double-digit margin. Five years ago, Macron won a sweeping victory over Le Pen to become France’s youngest president at 39. The margin is expected to be much smaller this time: Polling agencies Opinionway, Harris and Ifop projected that the 44-year-old pro-European centrist would win at least 57% of the vote.
Le Pen was projected to win between 41.5% and 43% support — a still unprecedented result for the 53-year-old on her third attempt to win the French presidency.
Le Pen called her results “a shining victory,” saying that “in this defeat, I can’t help but feel a form of hope.”
She and hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who placed third in the first round of voting on April 10 and was among 10 presidential candidates eliminated that day, both quickly pitched forward to France’s legislative election in June, urging voters to give them a parliamentary majority to hamstring Macron.