World leaders have congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his convincing win in the French presidential election as EU capitals expressed relief that France had proven not to be the next domino to fall after Britain’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as US president.
A spokesman for the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was quick to hail the result as a “victory for a strong and united Europe”. “Congratulations, @EmmanuelMacron. Your victory is a victory for a strong and united Europe and for French-German friendship,” tweeted Steffen Seibert in French and German.
Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, wrote: “Vive la France, Vive L’Europe!”, adding that it was a “a strong signal for our common values.” Separately, the German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel celebrated Macron’s win for keeping France “at the heart of Europe”.
Follow the latest reaction and developments in France in the aftermath of the victory of centrist Emmanuel Macron over the far-right Marine Le Pen
The European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, tweeted his congratulations, saying: “Happy that the French have chosen a European future. Together for a stronger and fairer Europe.” The European council president, Donald Tusk, also offered his congratulations, saying the French had chosen “liberty, equality and fraternity” and “said no to the tyranny of fake news”.
While Marine Le Pen was projected to take about 11m votes, double her father’s score in 2002, it was clearly satisfying to many leaders that the far right appeared unable to get above the 40% mark, which some feared would be breached.
Minutes after the exit poll predicting Macron’s came out, Downing Street issued a statement expressing British prime minister Theresa May’s optimism over future relations between the two countries.
“The prime minister warmly congratulates president-elect Macron on his election success,” the statement said. “France is one of our closest allies and we look forward to working with the new president on a wide range of shared priorities.”
A congratulatory statement on Monday from the Kremlin, which had been widely seen as backing Le Pen and gave her a meeting with Vladimir Putin in March, urged Macron to work with Russia to “overcome mutual mistrust and unite to ensure international stability and security.”
Ties between Russia and France are strained over the wars in Ukraine and Syria while alleged cyberattacks on Macron’s campaign were linked to Moscow.
Donald Trump also extended his congratulations, despite earlier having backed Le Pen.
Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated the victor, saying China and France shared a “responsibility toward peace and development in the world.”
“China stands ready to work with France to move the strategic Sino-French partnership to a higher level,” he said according to Xinhua news agency.
Meanwhile, the Chinese daily Global Times, a Communist party controlled tabloid, hailed Macron’s victory as a win against a “populism trend” following US President Donald Trump’s election last year.
“It may be too early to conclude that today’s peak of popularism in world politics is beginning to wane,” the nationalist newspaper said.
“Years later when we look back upon this election, we may find that France made a wise choice for human civilisation in helping to keep it moving forward at such a crucial time, rather than setting it back,” it said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said “the victory of President-elect Macron is a symbolic victory against inward-looking and protectionist moves and shows a vote of confidence in the EU”.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau telephoned Emmanuel Macron to congratulate him.
“I look forward to working closely with President-elect Macron in the years ahead as we work together on a progressive agenda to promote international security, increase collaboration in science and technology, and create good, middle class jobs on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said in a statement earlier.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had congratulated Macron and had received a text back saying he was “looking forward to working together”.
Highlighting the cooperation between French and Australian soldiers during World War I, he added: “We have been side-by-side in freedom’s cause for over a century, and we are side-by-side in freedom’s cause in the Middle East today. So we have great work to do to make the ties between France and Australia stronger still.”
In Brussels there had been no contingency planning for a Le Pen victory, in a sign of an unwillingness to even consider the ramifications of such a result more than anything else.
The election was seen as significantly more important to the survival of the European project than the vote in the UK last June, given the centrality of France, a founding member, to the EU.
Le Pen had pledged to take France out of the eurozone and to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership, unless the bloc agreed to revert to a loose coalition of nations with neither a single currency nor a border-free area.
Not only did the result come as a significant relief for the European commission, but it will be seen by some in Brussels as a vindication of the EU executive’s unprecedented backing for a candidate in a domestic election. The decision to not comment during the Brexit referendum in the UK, and the question of whether that had been the right way forward, had weighed heavily on officials’ minds in Brussels.
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