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As it happened: Macron wins re-election for a second term as French president

Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected as president of France, projected results show. Here's how the action unfolded on Sunday night with the latest scores, reactions and analysis.

As it happened: Macron wins re-election for a second term as French president
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 Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

11.44

That concludes our live blog for this evening – let’s finish in the only way possible, with a rendition of La Marseillaise.

There’s no danger of French politics going quiet though – next week brings in a new government, along other things – Macron victory: What happens next?

And then our attention turns to the parliamentary elections in June and the crucial question of whether Macron can secure a majority to continue his reforms – French parliamentary elections: When do they happen and why are they important?

10.20

This election had the highest abstention rate since 1969. The rate of abstention in the second round of the election – in other words the percentage of voters who didn’t cast a ballot (those who cast a vote blanc are not included in the figure) is officially 28.2 percent.

That means it’s the lowest turn out for a second round of the presidential election since 1969 when the abstention rate topped 30 percent.

Almost three out of ten voters didn’t cast a ballot – roughly the equivalent of 13 million French people.

In 2017, when Le Pen faced Macron in the second round, the abstention rate was ​​25.4 percent.

9.50

Macron’s speech was fairly brief.

As well as thanking his supporters he also acknowledged the high abstention rate (around 28 percent of people did not vote), saying he had heard the message that had been sent, and thanked those who voted in the second round not because they supported him, but to block the far right.

He also addressed Le Pen’s supporters, saying: “I know that many of our compatriots have chosen the far right today – the anger and discords that made them choose this path, must also find a response. This is my responsibility.

“I am no longer the candidate of one camp, but the president of all,” he said.

He said he wanted to make France “a great green nation”, as well as continuing his projects of a strong EU, an independent France with greater investment and greater freedom of creativity and entrepreneurship.

He concluded by saying that he wanted to “heal the divisions that have been expressed in these elections, by ensuring respect for everyone, every day.

“I want a fairer society, equality between women and men … The years to come will certainly be difficult, but they will be historic and we will have to write them, together, for the new generations.”

Read the full report of Macron’s speech HERE.

9.35

Macron is now walking towards the Tower with Brigitte, who is wearing a very nice navy and silver jacket, and a group of children, to the strains of Ode to Joy – the EU’s anthem.

9.20

Still waiting for Macron to start his speech . . . In the meantime his DJ continues playing and his supporters wait.

9.15

Here’s the first reaction from The Local’s political columnist John Lichfield.

You can catch John’s in-depth reaction on our podcast, Talking France, next episode out tomorrow.

8.55

Macron is expected to speak to his supporters at the Eiffel Tower at around 9pm.

He has now left the Elysée, and French TV is showing live footage of his motorcade driving through Paris.

In the meantime extreme right TV pundit Eric Zemmour, who was knocked out in the first round after gaining just 7 percent of the vote, has been talking. He said: “I want to express this evening my disappointment and my sadness […] this evening the lovers of France lost and Emmanuel Macron was re-elected easily.”

Zemmour noted that it was the eighth time a Le Pen (either Marine or her father) has lost a presidential election.

“I did what I could to avoid this result. (…) I wasn’t able to do it,” he said. He then called on a union of “the right and of patriots” for the parliamentary elections in June.

8.50

With 20 percent of the vote in the first round, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s supporters were crucial in deciding the second round – so who did they back?

According to one poll some 42 percent of Mélenchon’s first round voters backed Macron, 10 percent less than in 2017.

Around 17 percent of the far left candidates voters in the first round backed the far-right Le Pen – 10 percent more than in 2017.

The rest either abstained or cast a vote blanc.

This theme is taken up on the front page of the leftwing daily Libération, which says ‘Macron re-elected, thanks to who?;

8.45

The far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who finished third in the first round vote, was happy to see Le Pen defeated but also attacked Emmanuel Macron saying he was “the worst president elected in the Fifth Republic”.

“The ballot boxes have decided, Madame Le Pen is beaten,” said Mélénchon adding that the defeat of the far-right, anti-immigration, anti-Islam candidate was “very good news for the unity of French people”.

The far-left leader has called on French voters to elect him as prime minister by making sure his party wins the parliamentary elections.

“The third round begins tonight” Mélenchon said, referring to June’s parliamentary elections

“To all of you I say: do not resign yourself to defeat.  

“I call on you to bring about a new common future”, he said declaring that by choosing him, it is possible to “beat” Emmanuel Macron.

8.35

Macron’s supporters look pretty happy – there’s lots of dancing and flag-waving under the Eiffel Tower as a DJ plays party tunes (wonder if he had a set list for if Macron lost?)

Macron will give a speech to the crowd there shortly.

8.25 

Losing candidate Marine Le pen gave a speech to supporters some 15 minutes after the result was announced to concede defeat.

She thanked the millions of voters who had backed her to be president of France whilst attacking the winner Emmanuel Macron.

In front of cheering supports she said the fact that around 43 percent of voters backed her represented a “brilliant victory”.

“In this defeat I can feel hope,” she said.

“I fear the five years to come will not break with the brutal five years we have had. I will continue my commitment to France and the French. “It’s not over.”

She said the “historic score” showed the defiance of the French people towards French and European leaders.

Le Pen said she would never abandon the French people and said she would lead the campaign for the parliamentary elections.

Speaking about the winner she said: “I fear Emmanuel Macron will do nothing to repair the fractures that divide our country.”

She finished her speech by starting a rendition of the French national anthem.

You can read the full report of Le Pen’s speech HERE.

Marine Le Pen gives her concession speech. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP

8.20

Congratulations are flooding in for Macron, among the quickest out of the blocks on the international stage was president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

Underlining the high stakes of this election, the leaders of Germany, Spain and Portugal wrote an open letter in Le Monde urging French voters to pick Macron. European leaders do not generally comment in advance on another country’s election.

Von der Leyen will be relieved to have dodged a bullet, since Marine Le Pen as president would have dragged the EU into a crisis with her ‘Frexit bys tealth’ policies.

8.10

There are various different polling organisations that produce the projected results in France, and they’re all within a couple of percent of each other at this stage, with no organisation giving Macron a win smaller than 16 points.

8pm

Projected results are in – Macron wins by 58.2 percent,  Le Pen 41.8 percent.

This is not the final result, it’s based on early results from carefully selected sample polling stations, but the method is generally considered very accurate at predicting the winner.

Several different polling organisations produce these polls, so there will be slightly different results coming in as the evening goes on. The results are also updated through the night until the Interior Ministry provides the final, official count on Monday morning. 

Although it’s likely that the final scores will change by a couple of percent, it’s unlikely to affect the outcome. 

7.50

The US embassy has taken the step of warning its nationals in France about the potential for protests on Sunday night after the results of the election are announced.

A tweet reads: “Demonstration Alert / French Elections: On Sunday April 24, spontaneous gatherings in cities throughout France after 8pm could potentially turn violent. Other protests expected over the weekend with potential for riots. Avoid protest areas.”

The tweet is likely to be a simple precautionary warning given that protests occurred in 2017 after the results were announced, rather than an alert based on specific intelligence.

7.45

Just 15 minutes to go now until we get the projected results . . . 

Here’s a look back to the 1981 election, when French TV stations decided to use computer graphics to announce the winner. It’s fair to say that such graphics were still very much in their infancy.

7.20

If Le Pen wins, she will make history as the first female president of France. If Macron wins, he too will get an entry in the history books, it’s not a ‘first ever’ but he will become the first incumbent president in 20 years to be re-elected for a second term, and only the fourth president of the Fifth Republic to be re-elected.

READ ALSO Why do French presidents rarely get re-elected?

Macron got his own ‘first’ back in 2017 when he became the youngest French president ever, at the age of 39.

7.15

If Le Pen wins, her team has briefed that she will take part in a bus parade through Paris – driving through the capital’s streets at the head of a parade of the 13 coaches that have carried her campaign teams around the country.

7pm

Polling stations have now closed in most of France, but the big cities have the option to stay open until 8pm, and most of them have taken that option.

Counting now begins in the polling stations that have closed. Certain stations have been selected by polling organisations to provide an early projected vote – they’re carefully picked to be a representative sample of urban, rural, elderly and young demographics and representing various political strongholds. 

Once the first 100, 200 or 400 votes are counted – depending on the size of the commune – they are phoned through to various polling organisations who use them to compile the 8pm results.

Exit polls are not taken in France and it is illegal to publish any result before 8pm French time. 

Some overseas organisations do publish results before 8pm, but these are generally pretty inaccurate. 

The French electoral commission says: “The Commission des sondages [polling commission] has obtained assurances from the eight main polling institutes (BVA, Elabe, Harris Interactive, Ifop, Ipsos, Kantar, Odoxa and OpinionWay) that none of them will conduct exit polls. As a result, any reference on polling day to such polls can only be the result of rumours or manipulation and therefore no credit should be given to them.”

6.30

Both Macron and Le Pen are now back in Paris after voting in different towns in northern France earlier today. Macron is at the Elysée and will join his campaign team at the Champ de Mars later, Le Pen has travelled from her party HQ to join campaigners in the Pavillion d’Armenonville.   

And if you like your voting with a romantic vibe, this polling station in Aveyron, south west France, had votes by candle-light.

It was actually because there was a power cut in the village of Comprégnac, reports local paper Midi Libre.

6pm

The far-right figure Florian Philippot was stopped for speeding on his way to vote, according to French daily Le Parisien. The newspaper reported that the car he was travelling in was snapped going between 170km/h and 180km/h on the A4 motorway on Sunday morning, while heading to Forbach, Moselle, to vote.

Because of the excessive speed, gendarmes immediately confiscated the licence of his driver and he was left stranded at a service station.

Philippot is a former close confidante of Le Pen who has emerged as one of the leaders of the anti-vax movement in France. He and defeated presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan have said they intend to field 500 candidates in the parliamentary elections, supported by Géneration Frexit.

5.45

Emmanuel Macron’s team, who greeted the first round results in the exhibition centre at Porte de Versailles, have this time set up camp on the Champ de Mars, right underneath the Eiffel Tower. If he wins, Macron will make his victory speech under the tower, clearly seeing no point in skimping on French symbolism.

Le Pen, on the other hand, is at her party HQ in the west of Paris.

Her team has set up camp at the posh events centre Pavillon d’Armenonville in the Bois de Boulogne. She’s expected to arrive at about 6.45pm, but thousands of journalists are already there – some of whom are already remarking on/complaining about the quality of refreshments on offer.

5.30

Polling organisation Ipsos projects that the overall turnout will be 72 percent, just two percent lower than 2017 but following a general trend of falling turnout in elections.

Turnout in this election’s second round has been particularly keenly watched because of the large group of voters – 21 percent – who voted for far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round. They had the potential to decide the election, but many had told pollsters that they would abstain in the second round.

Turnout figures so far suggest that most of them have in fact voted. However, turnout rates do include those people who went to the polling station but cast a vote blanc – a blank vote – and therefore voted for neither candidate.

Reader question: What is a vote blanc?

5.05

At 5pm the turnout across the country was 63.23 percent, slightly down on the 5pm turnout rate during the first round, which was 65 percent.

It follows the overall trend of falling turnout, at 5pm on the second round of voting in 2017 turnout was 65.3 percent, in 2012 it was 71.9 percent, in 2007 it was 65 percent and in 2002 it was 67.6 percent.

Voters have until 7pm to cast their ballot, unless they live in one of the big cities, in which case they have until 8pm.

5pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the third-placed candidate in the first round of voting, has voted and as he firmly told his supporters that “not a single vote” should be cast for Le Pen, we can probably assume that he cast his ballot for Macron.

He now has his eyes firmly set on the presidential elections, to be held in June, where he is hoping to make this party the dominant force in the French parliament, therefore forcing whoever wins the presidential election to name him as the Prime Minister.

Here’s just one of the slightly cruel jokes doing the rounds about Mélenchon being forced to watch a second round that he fairly narrowly failed to qualify for (first round voting was Macron 27.8 percent, Le Pen 23.1 percent, Mélenchon 21.9 percent).

4.45

The candidates and other high profile French politicians have been busy posting voting selfies on social media.

Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron voted this morning in Le Touquet, where they own a holiday home, and Marine Le Pen voted in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, in the constituency the she represents as an MP.

Prime Minister Jean Castex is voting in Prades, near to the Spanish border, the town he was previously the mayor of. He has attracted a lot of criticism for taking a plane back to Paris after voting in Prades in round one of the election.

Here’s just one of many people pointing out that he could have either taken the train or voted par procuration (by proxy).

Preamble

Welcome to The Local’s live blog, covering the second round of the French presidential election.

Voting in some of France’s overseas territories has already closed, but in mainland France polling stations close at 7pm in most places, and 8pm in the large cities.

Counting then begins and we get a preliminary result, based on selected polling stations, at 8pm.

We’ll be following all the latest developments, the results, the reactions and of course trying to work out what it all means for France.

Here’s a more detailed guide to how the next hours will unfold – What time is the result and what happens next?

Here’s an explanation of how those 8pm results are calculated – How do the French produce such accurate early election results?

And here’s a look at France’s two-round system – Why do French elections normally have two rounds?

READ ALSO Why do the French rarely re-elect their presidents?

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POLITICS

‘Build together’: The French government’s to do list for the next five years

France’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne outlined on Wednesday the government’s plans for the next five years in her first speech to the National Assembly since June’s legislative elections.

'Build together': The French government's to do list for the next five years

After congratulating newly elected deputies, Borne called on opposition parties to work with the governing party to reform, the French having chosen during the last legislative elections not to give them an absolute majority. 

“The French are asking us to take our responsibilities. We will do it. Together we will respond to the challenge of abstention … the demand for action … we will meet the requirement of responsibility,” she said.

“They urge us to do things differently, a sustained dialogue, the active search for compromise. The context obliges us, the war in Ukraine reminds us how fragile peace is”, she continued, also referring to “the ecological emergency which is becoming more present every second”. 

She added: “The French are asking us to talk more, to talk better, to build together.”

Among the challenges facing the government, Borne spoke of “environmental responsibility” and “improving the public accounts”. 

Here are the key points of her speech:

Cost of living

A bill to help French people with the cost of living and improve purchasing power will be the first major piece of government legislation put to the Assembly, on July 18th.

Borne, heckled by a febrile parliament, singled out the abolition of the TV licence, saying it would “save €138 per year for the French. Taxation will be one of our areas of debate, but it can be a subject of compromise.”

Pensions

On pensions, Borne said: “Our social model is a paradox: one of the most generous and one of those where we work the shortest. For the prosperity of our country and the sustainability of our pay-as-you-go system (…) we will have to gradually work a little longer”.

She promise to consult with social partners on pension reform.

Energy

Elisabeth Borne confirms the government’s intention to hold “100 percent of the capital of EDF” – effectively announcing the re-nationalisation of the energy supplier. “We must ensure our sovereignty in the face of the consequences of the war in Ukraine,” she said.

The State already owns about 80 percent of the business.

“This evolution will permit EDF to reinforce its capacities to carry out in the shortest possible time its ambitious and indispensable projects for our future energy” supplies, she added.

Shares in EDF jumped more than five percent higher, having traded down five percent before the prime minister’s speech.

Environment

“As of September, we will launch a vast consultation with a view to an energy-climate orientation law,” Borne said.

The “ecological emergency” is one of the government’s biggest upcoming challenges, she said.

“We will undertake radical transformations in our way of producing, housing, moving, consuming.”

“We will be the first major ecological nation to get out of fossil fuels,” the Prime Minister said, indicating that the government was putting nuclear energy at the heart of its green policy. “It is the guarantee of our energy sovereignty, the preservation of our purchasing power.”

She added that it would also create jobs.

Employment

Borne welcomed France’s improving employment figures, highlighting the success of apprenticeships, training for job seekers and the Un jeune, une Solution scheme. “Our country can get out of the vicious circle of mass unemployment,” she said.

Borne insisted that “full employment and good employment” is “not an illusion, not an unattainable goal” – but is “within our reach”.

Combatting ‘Séparatisme’

The prime minister also prioritised security in her speech, promising that “Separatism and Islamist extremism will be fought.”

As a result, Borne plans to present a bill for the creation of 200 additional gendarmerie brigades throughout the country. She also called for faster court decisions and for victims to be listened to. 

Education

Borne promised to improve teacher salaries, as she pledged “priority action” for schools and young people, and also said the government would continue developing the universal service scheme introduced by Emmanuel Macron during his first term in office.

“During our discussions, I saw another common desire emerge: to build the Republic of equal opportunities”, continues Elisabeth Borne. She assures that President Macron wants to “break the inequalities of destiny to allow everyone to choose their future, to trace the paths of emancipation”.

National debt

Borne set out an objective of reducing France’s national debt by 2026, and bringing the deficit below 3% from 2027.

Housing 

Borne said the question of housing is a major concern for French people and announced that her government has decided to put a ceiling on rent increases, and will work to build new housing.

Inequality 

The prime minister also announced plans to reduce inequality by offering single-parent households with childcare assistance for children up to age 12. Borne also pledged to simplify the student grant system, extend the culture pass from 6ème (age 11-12), and provide 30 minutes of sport for primary school students.

The PM also discussed potential reforms to disability benefits, which are currently partially dependent on spousal earnings.

At the end of a speech that lasted 90 minutes, Borne said that she wanted “to write a new page in the political history” of France. “I pledge never to break the thread of dialogue, to build ambitious compromises. The French have called for responsibility, and we will be there. We all have a part to play, we have everything to succeed. Building together, we will succeed.”

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