French President-elect Macron gears up for challenges ahead

PA Wire  PA Images
Theresa May's campaign posters focus on her

PA Wire PA Images Theresa May's campaign posters focus on her

But for the first time in the country's post-war history, France's new leader does not have a big party machine behind him, after the two main parties, the Republicans and Socialists, crashed out in the first round of the presidential election.

"We need new tools", campaign director David Rachline said Monday on France Info radio. The latest results showed that Le Pen won 33.9 percent of those who voted - less than expected but by far the party's strongest showing in a presidential election.

But Macron's mandate may be more muted than the numbers suggest.

On assuming office next Sunday as France's youngest leader since Napoleon, the 39-year-old faces the immediate challenge of securing a majority in next month's parliamentary election in order to have a realistic chance of implementing his plans for lower state spending, higher investment and reform of the tax, labour and pension systems.

US President expressed his desire to closely work with French President Emmanuel Macron and combat shared challanges. He said France had rejected those who wanted to "build borders and walls, and reject immigrants". "If he wants to continue the reckless policies of the past five years, we will take to the streets to demonstrate".

Mr Macron has promised to create a new majority in the centre.

"I will be at the head of this combat", she said.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put it bluntly: "With France, we have a particular problem".

Macron will be hoping that most voters take a similarly pragmatic line as he tackles a to-do list of unemployment around 10 percent, simmering tensions in deprived suburbs, and the home-grown Islamist radicalization that has contributed to a wave of attacks since 2015.

The pro-European centrist and former banker takes over a divided country where almost half of voters backed extremist candidates - critical of the European Union, globalisation and "elites" - in the first round of the election. The people held their referendum last Sunday. Around 25% of registered voters abstained, the highest this century, while nearly 9% cast blank or spoiled ballots.

Her tally was nearly double the score that her father Jean-Marie, the last far-right candidate to make the presidential runoff, achieved in 2002, when he was trounced by the conservative Jacques Chirac.

With 34 percent, Marine Le Pen nearly doubled her father's score.

He finished first in the first round of the election with a quarter of the vote. In interviews Monday, National Front officials said the party founded by her father would get a new name to try and draw in a broader spectrum of supporters.

"Clearly, she didn't pass the test". "I look very much forward to working with him", he wrote.

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