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Europeans Celebrate Macron Victory


French President-elect Emmanuel Macron celebrates on the stage at his victory rally near the Louvre in Paris, France May 7, 2017.

Reactions continue to pour in for newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, whose business friendly vision of European integration defeated Marine Le Pen, the far-right French nationalist who threatened to take France out of the European Union.

In Germany, newspaper headlines read “It’s a boy”… “The winner is Europe.” Some commuters reacted with relief while others were less overjoyed that Macron was the only alternative.

"I think it's sad that it had to be decided like this because Macron wasn't who everyone wanted to vote for. It was basically a choice between pest and cholera. But for Europe it's a good thing, and thank God it’s not Le Pen," Sandra Bahn expressed.

Christoph Palaska, another commuter, said, "Well, definitely better than if the Right had won. So I was pleasantly surprised. I have to say I am happy about it."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Macron personally by phone.

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

Baltic prime ministers in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, also welcomed Macron’s victory.

"The result [of the French election] shows that a unified Europe, a developing Europe, a safe Europe based on principle values, based on human rights, has a future,” Saulius Skvernelis, Lithuanian prime minister, pointed out. "Today the European Union stands before important challenges,” Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, who invited Macron to visit his country, said. “For me the most important is for France, a very important country of the European Union, to join in building the stability and unity of the whole European Union."

At a campaign event in London, British Prime Minister Theresa May urged voters to allow her a Macron-style mandate to strengthen hand in Brexit negotiations.

“We must make sure that in the U.K. we also have a strong mandate to take a strong position into our negotiating table,” she said.

In the United States, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to congratulate Macron on his “big win” and said “he looks very much forward to working with him!”

“In France we really saw people coming together on the notion that they support liberal policies, they support globalization, they support the European Union. I think it's really goes against the developments we’ve seen in many other countries,” Erik Brattberg, director of the Europe Program and a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told VOA via Skype. Macron won 66% of the vote, but the big challenge lies ahead for someone who was relatively unknown to the French public five years ago.

“So, his next domestic challenge will be to secure enough seats in the Parliament and then later on in the Senate to have enough domestic support from the legislative branch so that he can also implement some of the reforms that he’s promised.”

Brattberg said we will find out more about Macron's style and leadership qualities soon, as he will be on the world stage in the NATO and G-7 summits later this month.

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    Mariama Diallo

    Mariama Diallo is a senior reporter covering national and world affairs for Voice of America in multiple languages. She was recently the VOA acting bureau chief for the agency's West Africa office. 

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