France’s Emmanuel Macron used his victory speech Sunday to address disaffection at his leadership and the anger of those who opted for his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.
“I am no longer the candidate of a camp but the president of everyone,” Macron said as he addressed his supporters against a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Centrist Macron looks set to gain around 58% in the second and final round of voting in the French presidential elections, according to a flurry of exit polls and projections, with nationalist leader Marine Le Pen on 42%. Estimates in France are usually accurate but may be fine-tuned as official results come in.
Despite the predicted victory for 44-year-old Macron, the margin represents a smaller gap between the two candidates in comparison with the 2017 election, when Macron won with 66.1% of the vote.
Macron said Sunday that the concerns of those who abstained, had voted for him just to block his far-right rival, or simply picked Le Pen needed to be addressed.
He said his next five-year term would be different, promising that “nobody will be left by the wayside.”
“Because each one of us counts for more than just himself … This is what make the French people such a unique force which I love so intensely and which I am so proud to be serving again,” he said, according to a Reuters translation.
Macron has been accused of having a lack of empathy with voters. Warwick University Professor of French Politics Jim Shields told CNBC earlier this week that Macron had the difficult task of defending his five years in office but also presenting a fresh vision for the future.
“What he has to do is show empathy, come off his high horse, try to show that he cares about people’s everyday concerns, that he’s not the president of the rich that many accuse him of being,” he said.
The 2022 campaign was set against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a cost of living crisis in France, a surge in support for the far-left among younger generations and suggestions of widespread voter apathy.
Riot police reportedly charged and sprayed teargas at demonstrators in central Paris on Sunday evening who were protesting Macron’s victory.