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Image: picture alliance/Pacific Press/M. Debets

Relief in Berlin at French election result

Timothy Jones with AFP, dpa
April 24, 2017

Leading politicians in Germany and Europe have voiced relief that pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron won Sunday's poll. They called on French voters to back him in the second round against the far-right Marine Le Pen.


Germany's foreign minister has welcomed the success of Emmanuel Macron

German lawmakers across the board have welcomed the victory of pro-Europe candidate Emmanuel Macron in the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday, calling it a win against nationalism and populism.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, wrote on Twitter: "Good that Emmauel Macron has been successful with his firm course for a strong EU and a social market economy," and wished Macron "all the best for the next two weeks."

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Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also welcomed Macron's win, and voiced confidence that he would succeed his former party leader, Francois Hollande, as president of France.

"I am sure that he will be the next French president. He was the only pro-European candidate, who did not hide behind prejudices against Europe," Gabriel said during a visit in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

'A proven pro-European'

The leader of the Social Democrats, Martin Schulz, who will be his party's candidate for the chancellorship at elections in September, said he was "very happy that a proven pro-European" had won.

Schulz, formerly president of the European Parliament, said the win was also good for Germany, and that he would welcome working with Macron as French president if he himself won the chancellery.

"And then we could - he as president in France and I as chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany - start reforming the European Union on the basis of strengthened German-French cooperation," he said.

Präsidentschaftswahl in Frankreich Emmanuel Macron
At 39, Macron would be the youngest ever French presidentImage: Getty Images/V. Isore/IP3

A foil to Le Pen

Opposition parties were also outspoken in their support for Macron, particularly in view of what they see as the danger posed by his nearest rival, right-wing populist and anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front, whom he will face at a runoff on May 7.

"Le Pen relegated to second place. Democratic enlightenment works, as it has already done in Austria and the Netherlands. Our future lies in Europe," said Simone Peter, leader of the Greens. Her fellow Greens Katrin Göring-Eckhardt and Cem Özdemir also gave their backing to Macron, calling him "the opposite pole to Marine Le Pen" with "his clear 'yes' to Europe."

"It is now important to mobilize all democratic and pro-European forces in France and Europe to prevent the populist, xenophoic and anti-European policies of the National Front," they said.

Free Democrat chairman Christian Lindner also welcomed Sunday's result, saying "Emmanuel Macron bolsters Germany as well."

Macron to face Le Pen in runoff

'Hope and future of our generation'

As was to be expected, leading EU figures were enthusiastic in their praise for Macron.

"To see how the flags of France and the EU greet the result of Emmanuel Macron - that is the hope and future of our generation," the EU's top diplomat, Federica Mogherin, wrote on Twitter.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also congratulated Emmanuel Macron and wished him well for the runoff vote, according to his spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief negotiator on Brexit, emphasized the importance of a win by Macron to the EU.

 "As a patriot and a European, I would give Emmanuel Macron my vote on May 7. France must stay European," he said.  

Read: Europe lives to fight another day

Two different poles

Macron, a former economy minister under Hollande, has spoken out in favor of strengthening the EU and the eurozone, and of enhancing France's partnership with Germany. Le Pen, for her part, advocates France's exit from the EU and a return to the country's former currency, the franc.

In the first round of voting on Sunday, in which a field of 11 candidates contended, Macron won around 24 percent of the vote to Marine Le Pen's just under 22 percent. He is widely seen as likely to take the Elysee Palace by a large margin in the May runoff.

Infografik Frankreich Präsidentschaftswahlen 2017 1. Runde ENG


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