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French President Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, successfully fended off a challenge from the Right’s Marine Le Pen on Sunday, winning France’s first presidential reelection in 20 years.

Macron, 44, won his second 5-year term after collecting 58.5 percent of the vote in the presidential runoff, a more narrow victory than when defeated Le Pen in 2017.

In his victory speech, the French president said he was emboldened to reunite the country that is “filled with so many doubts, so many divisions,” and promised a future where “no one will be left by the side of the road.”

French President Emmanuel Macron thumbs up as he welcomes Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (L) prior to their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on December 01, 2021, in Paris, France.
(Chesnot/Getty Images)

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Le Pen, 53, similarly celebrated Sunday evening, calling her loss a “shining victory” as her party garnered 41.5 percent of the vote — more than it did just five years ago.

“In this defeat, I can’t help but feel a form of hope,” she said.

Supporters of French President Emmanuel Macron watch a screen in front of the Eiffel Tower as the first election projections are announced in Paris, France, Sunday, April 24, 2022.

Supporters of French President Emmanuel Macron watch a screen in front of the Eiffel Tower as the first election projections are announced in Paris, France, Sunday, April 24, 2022.
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine served as a focal point in the campaign as Macron pushed for international cooperation and a NATO-driven strategy to quell violence between the countries.

“We have a lot to do and the war in Ukraine reminds us that we are going through tragic times when France must make its voice heard,” Macron said in his speech.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen gestures as she arrives to speak after the early result projections of the French presidential election runoff were announced in Paris, Sunday, April 24, 2022.(AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen gestures as she arrives to speak after the early result projections of the French presidential election runoff were announced in Paris, Sunday, April 24, 2022.(AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Conversely, Le Pen campaigned on separating France from its international duties, advocating for moving away from the EU and NATO. The challenger suggested a more neutral approach to dealing with Russia’s aggression and a refocusing on the French people.

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Le Pen’s party broke an unprecedented level of support — which helped spark the runoff election. Le Pen previously lost the election with 34 percent of the vote, to Macron’s 66 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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