Macron’s re-election offers hope for moderates

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Macron’s re-election offers hope for moderates

Macron s supporters waved the E.U. at his victory speech on Sunday, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The president re-election was seen as an endorsement of a much grander project that has been challenged by Putin's military adventurism abroad and domestic politicians on both extremes. The mantle was taken over by Le Pen in France, and with 13 million votes, the most for a far-right candidate in French history, many in the country agree with her.

There is support for her politics and what she stands for, and it is not just a protest vote from people who don't like Macron — people agree with her programme, if not all of it, and find it appealing, said Marta Lorimer, an expert in far-right European politics at the London School of Economics.

The question for the French far-right is whether its rivals — including the movement behind Eric Zemmour, who launched a failed bid to beat Le Pen in the election's first round — can agree to work together to mount an electoral challenge, Lorimer said.

Polls have shown that Macron won thanks to what French political commentators call beavers -- voters who voted for Macron to build a dam against a Le Pen victory, not because they believe in his platform. As Macron put it, many of our compatriots voted for me not to support my ideas but to block those of the extreme right. This reluctance could lead to a return of bites on Macron in the crucial parliamentary elections in June, which he needs to win to be sure of pushing through an agenda that includes a hugely unpopular pension reform proposal.

Ines Larche, 34, from Paris, told NBC news that she voted for the Green Party in the first round but then went for Macron on Sunday.

She said that I was tempted not to because I am very disappointed with his policies, but Le Pen is super dangerous. She doesn't care about contracts or treaties, she is just a populist and dangerous. I voted for a continuation of the situation, but I will definitely vote for the left in the parliamentary elections. The challenge for Macron and the rest of the moderate West is to balance denouncing far-right xenophobia while taking seriously and not demonizing a large portion of the electorate, Lorimer said.

In a speech accepting the election resulted in a victory, Le Pen said in a speech that her ideas - including a ban on Muslim face and head coverings in public - had reached the summit of French politics.

Experts cautioned that the gains of the far-right should not be overestimated.

Le Pen received 27 percent of the vote - it is very concerning and far too much for a healthy democracy, but I think we need to stress that 3 out of 4 voters did not choose her, said Aurelien Mondon, senior lecturer at the University of Bath in England.

For Mondon, Le Pen's result shows that the far-right may have reached a glass ceiling in French politics - one that she couldn't get past despite favorable economic conditions for a protest against Macron and the more extreme views of Zemmour making her look moderate.

Despite the tensions of a closer race from Brussels to Washington, Macron won by a comfortable margin. He is not going to have an easy second term because that doesn't mean he's going to have an easy second term.

Patrick Galey reported from Troyes, France, and Patrick Smith reported from London.