Le Pen claims ‘victory’ in record support despite defeat in French elections

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen claimed “victory” for having a record turnout in the nation’s election on Sunday, despite losing to incumbent President Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen, who was on her third attempt to win the French presidency, is expected to have received almost 42 percent of the vote, compared to 58 percent for Macron. That marks the highest level of support his far-right National Rally party has received in an election, according to the Associated Press.

Admitting defeat on Sunday, Le Pen noted that the election results “in and of themselves represent a great victory,” adding that “millions of our compatriots have chosen the national camp and change,” Politico reported. The results suggest that while Macron secured the presidency for another five years, Le Pen’s fiercely nationalist policies seemed to resonate more than ever with the French population.

In her last race in 2017, Le Pen won just 34 percent of the vote, compared to 66 percent for Macron. Meanwhile, years earlier, in 2002, his father won just 18 percent of the vote and the party failed to advance in France’s second-round election in any other year. news week noted on Sunday.

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen claimed “victory” for having a record turnout in the nation’s election on Sunday, despite losing to incumbent President Emmanuel Macron. Above, Le Pen makes a statement after the results of the April 24 elections in Paris are projected.
Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

Le Pen campaigned on a controversial platform that promised to weaken France’s ties with the European Union and NATO, moves that would have vastly altered the nation’s standing in Europe as the continent grapples with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She has also been accused of being too friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and her possible victory would likely have changed France’s overall response to the war.

Le Pen and her party have also taken a strong stance against immigration, a nationalist trend that critics have called racist. Among other things, his platform included support for policies targeting Muslims and giving French citizens preferential treatment in terms of jobs and benefits.

In contrast, Macron led his previous term with a centrist approach. Five years ago, the French president received significant support and won the 2017 election with 66 percent of the vote, according to AP. This year, however, he struggled to maintain that momentum, with many French residents criticizing his presidency during the pandemic and the latest crisis in Ukraine.

Throughout his last term, the nation also saw months of violent protests against his economic policies.

“[Macron] it was the worst option,” Stephanie David, a transportation logistics worker, told the AP when asked why Macron won her vote in Sunday’s election.

However, Macron’s victory was greeted with a wave of congratulations from several European leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. In his own speech on Sunday, he thanked French citizens for re-electing him and added that he is “proud” to serve a new term.

“This is what makes the French people this singular force that I love so deeply, so intensely, and am so proud to serve again,” he said.

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