Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Hollande Says Macron to Be Inaugurated President on Sunday | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55373467

Outgoing French President Francois Hollande (R) and President-elect Emmanuel Macron attend a ceremony to mark the end of World War II at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane De Sakutin/Pool

Emmanuel Macron will be inaugurated as France’s first-centrist president on Sunday at the Elysee palace, outgoing President Francois Hollande told French television.

Hollande warmly greeted Macron on Monday in their first public meeting since Macron’s meteoric rise over far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

The president smiled and clasped the arms of his one-time economy minister as the two men attended a ceremony at Paris’s Arc de Triomphe to commemorate victory over the Nazis in World War II.

Hollande walked beside the 39-year-old Macron to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the monument, where they laid a wreath.

Macron’s victory, which smashed the dominance of France’s mainstream parties, will bring huge relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain’s vote to quit the EU and Donald Trump’s election as US president.

Final results from the interior ministry out Monday showed Macron — who will be France’s youngest ever president — won 66.1 percent of the vote against 33.9 percent for Le Pen.

Macron received a total of 20,753,797 votes, compared with 10,644,118 for Marine Le Pen, the ministry announced the day after the landmark election.

The abstention rate was 25.44 percent, the highest since the presidential election in 1969.

The interior ministry on Sunday reported a record number of blank and invalid ballots, accounting for nine percent of all registered voters, compared with two percent in the first round.

Together with the abstention rate, that means that one in three voters declined to choose between the two candidates.

The abstention rate was 22.23 percent for during the first round of the election on April 23, making it the first time since the 1969 election that turnout was lower in the second round than in the first.

Casting a blank ballot — traditionally used by disgruntled French voters as a protest vote — usually increases in the second round.

But this year it quadrupled, thanks in part to an unprecedented situation of neither the two mainstream left-leaning or right-leaning parties making it to the run-off.

Meanwhile, a number of international leaders congratulated Macron for winning the French presidency on Sunday.

Merkel congratulated French President-elect Emmanuel Macron on his “spectacular” election success, pledging to help France tackle unemployment and to work together with him to promote European stability.

“He carries the hopes of millions of French people, and of many people in Germany and the whole of Europe,” Merkel told a news conference in Berlin on Monday. “He ran a courageous pro-European campaign, stands for openness to the world and is committed decisively to a social market economy.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she looked forward to working with Macron on a wide range of shared priorities, and US President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations for what he said was Macron’s “big win”.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also congratulated the new French president.

Remarkably, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Macron to bridge deep rifts and work together to fight the “growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism”.

“The citizens of France have trusted you with leading the country at a difficult time for Europe and the whole world community,” Putin told Macron, whose staff had accused Russia during the campaign of trying to damage their candidate.

The Kremlin said Putin told Macron in a congratulatory telegram: “The growth in threats of terrorism and militant extremism is accompanied by an escalation of local conflicts and the destabilization of whole regions.

“In these conditions it is especially important to overcome mutual mistrust and unite efforts to ensure international stability and security.”

Late on Friday, 1-1/2 days before polls opened, Macron’s campaign said it had been the target of a massive computer hack that dumped internal campaign emails online.

A New York-based cyber intelligence consultancy, Flashpoint, said there were indications a hacker group with ties to Russian military intelligence was behind the attack.

Putin has repeatedly denied interfering in the elections of any foreign countries, and rejected previous allegations about Kremlin-backed hacking operations.