By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
World leaders have congratulated French President, Emmanuel Macron, on his election victory over his far-right rival, with many in Europe describing the outcome as a win for the European Union.
European Council President, Charles Michel, as well as the Prime Ministers of Belgium and Luxembourg, were among the first to congratulate Macron, followed by almost all of the bloc’s 27 leaders, after his win over Marine Le Pen by a comfortable margin.
“Bravo Emmanuel.In this turbulent period, we need a solid Europe and a France totally committed to a more sovereign and more strategic European Union,” Michel wrote on Twitter.
Though polls had predicted Macron winning Sunday’s second round of the French presidential election, the experience of the United Kingdom’s surprise vote to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump in the United States in 2016 had some concerned about the possibility of an election upset.
A victory for Le Pen, a deeply euro-sceptic politician, who has professed admiration for Russian President, Vladimir Putin, would have had huge implications for the stability of the EU.
Le Pen had long flirted with the idea of leaving the bloc, although she insisted during her campaign that she had no “secret agenda” this time for quitting the group or the euro single currency.
Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, said Macron’s re-election was “wonderful news for all of Europe,” while German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said French voters “have sent a strong vote of confidence in Europe today.”
The leaders of Sweden, Romania, Lithuania, Finland, Netherlands and Greece, as well as European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, all reacted within half an hour of the result with their congratulations.
“I look forward to continuing our extensive and constructive cooperation within the EU and NATO, and to further strengthening the excellent relationship between our countries,” Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, said.
Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, tweeted his congratulations to Macron.
“The citizens have chosen a France committed to a free, strong and fair EU. Democracy wins. Europe wins. Congratulations Emmanuel Macron,” Sanchez wrote.
Sanchez on Thursday wrote a joint opinion piece in the French daily, Le Monde, with Germany’s Scholz, and Portugal’s Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, criticising Le Pen and urging people to vote for Macron.
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the public face of Brexit for many Europeans, applauded the result, pledging cooperation with Macron, saying: “France is one of our closest and most important allies.”
United States President, Joe Biden, also hailed Macron’s victory
“France is our oldest ally and a key partner in addressing global challenges.
“I look forward to our continued close cooperation – including on supporting Ukraine, defending democracy, and countering climate change,” Biden said in a tweet.
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has spoken with Macron several times since Russia’s invasion of his country on February 24, congratulated his French counterpart by phone.
On Twitter, Zelenskyy called Macron a “true friend of Ukraine.”
“I wish him further success for the sake of the [French] people. I appreciate his support and I am convinced that we are moving together towards new common victories,” Zelenskyy wrote in Ukrainian and French.
The leaders of Australia and Canada also congratulated Macron.
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said Macron’s victory was a “great expression of liberal democracy in action in uncertain times,” adding that he wished the French leader and his country “every success, in particular your leadership in Europe and as an important partner to Australia in the Indo-Pacific.”
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said he was “looking forward to continuing our work together on the issues that matter most to people in Canada and France – from defending democracy, to fighting climate change, to creating good jobs and economic growth for the middle class.”