Macron wins French presidential runoff election

French President Emmanuel Macron won a second term Sunday, over far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. This is the second time Macron and Le Pen have faced off in the French presidential elections, but the margin is projected to be much narrower this time around than in 2017, when Macron defeated Le Pen by over 30 percentage points. Malcom Brabant reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Geoff Bennett:

    French President Emmanuel Macron has won a second term defeating far right challenger Marine Le Pen. But the margin is projected to be closer than their first face off in 2017 when he won by more than 30 percentage points. Malcom Brabant has our report from Paris on what led to the Macron victory and Le Pen stronger showing.

  • Malcom Brabant:

    As she arrived to vote in the nationalist stronghold in northern France, Marine Le Pen said she was feeling serene, despite being behind in the opinion polls. This is her third crack at the presidency. And she's prepared like never before.

    But Le Pen was dependent on a low turnout and especially reliant on the abstention of people who couldn't bring themselves to vote for the sitting president.

    She's appeal to poor working class families with pledges to bring down the cost of living, but promises to be a disruptive influence in the European Union have alienated those who want international stability while war is close by in Ukraine.

    The incumbent Emmanuel Macron is painting himself as an international statesman who can offer substance abroad and be all things to everyone at home.

    In the second round of French elections, many voters traditionally hold their noses as they cast their ballots because they have to vote tactically, and not with their hearts. Reluctantly, librarian Caroline Alzieu voted for Macron

  • Caroline Alzieu, Macron Voter:

    I voted for one of them, but not out of belief for passion. I just voted to prevent civil war like the one you had during the Trump presidency.

  • Malcom Brabant:

    Artists Raphaele Anfre was also underwhelmed by Macron as president, but did what she believed was her civic duty.

  • Raphaele Anfre, Macron Voter:

    I just voted for someone I disagree with and I don't really appreciate.

  • Malcom Brabant:

    So you voted for Macron.

  • Raphaele Anfre:

    I'm not supposed to say that, but yes.

  • Malcom Brabant:

    Can I ask you how concerned you are about the prospects of a Le Pen presidency?

  • Raphaele Anfre:

    Well, for the first time I'm very scared.

  • Malcom Brabant:

    But not as scared as France is approximately 6 million Muslims. Le Pen has promised to ban headscarves in public places, and to hold a referendum on immigration.

    The North African inspired Greek mosque in Paris, community leaders have made their disdain for Le Pen abundantly clear. How afraid are you of Le Pen presidency?

    Chmes-Eddine Hafiz, Rector, Great Mosque of Paris (through translator): For me it's not a scenario I can envision but if we imagine she is elected it will be catastrophic.

  • Malcom Brabant:

    Chmes-Eddine Hafiz is rector of the Great Mosque and speaks on behalf of all France's Muslims.

  • Chmes-Eddine Hafiz (through translator):

    She nourishes, she carries values that are racist and divisive.

  • Malcom Brabant:

    This is Santoni, one of the poorest and most diverse districts in France. Its deputy mayor Leyla Temel is a socialist of Turkish heritage. The area is hostile to Macron. But she says he has to be elected.

  • Deputy Mayor Leyla Temel, Saint-Denise, France (through translator):

    It's not a vote for his policies, but it's a rallying call for democracy for the Republic and against the National Front.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And Malcolm joins us now from the Macron campaign election night headquarters at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It's good to have you with us. And this campaign, as I understand it was beset by apathy. But in the end, Macron looks to have won a clear victory that surpassed his polling numbers. How did he pull that off?

  • Malcom Brabant:

    This has been a vote for the soul of France. The numbers look impressive, don't they 58 percent for Macron, and 42 percent for Le Pen. And that looks if you looked at the pure numbers as being a great victory, but it's not a triumph.

    Emmanuel Macron was here tonight, talking to his supporters and also to the nation. And he recognized that the people did not vote for his program. The reason why they voted for him in such large numbers was that they just couldn't stomach the thought of Marine Le Pen and her right wing ideas being in the Elysee Palace, which is where the President lives.

    And so he knows that this is a country that's divided. And he has — was certainly not triumphalist at all. He knows that there's an awful lot of work to do to heal this country, and to try to appeal to Madame Le Pen's supporters to prove that he is the president for all of France.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    So Malcolm, what does all this mean then?

  • Malcom Brabant:

    What this really means is a continuation of stability. And it's really important actually for NATO because it means that there's going to be no disruption. And that's what would have happened if Le Pen had got into the Elysee Palace. It's also very bad news for the Kremlin because he would have liked Le Pen to win because it would have caused chaos here.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Special correspondent Malcom Brabant for us tonight in Paris. Thanks so much.

Listen to this Segment