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Emmanuel Macron, Winner Of Presidential Runoff, Promises To Heal France


So the other big news we are following this morning is this.



GREENE: France has a new president today. You're hearing crowds cheering last night in front of the Louvre Museum, where the results were announced. Thirty-nine-year-old Emmanuel Macron is the youngest president in French history. He defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen with 66 percent of the vote after a really contentious campaign. The new president now has to govern a deeply divided country with his brand-new political party that currently has zero seats in the French Parliament. Let's turn now to NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris. She has been covering this long and winding election. Good morning, Eleanor.


BEARDSLEY: So transport us to Paris. What do things feel like this morning?

GREENE: Well, after that joyous celebration last night, listen to this, this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in French).

BEARDSLEY: OK, that's the hymn of the Resistance from World War II. Today is the 72nd anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. It's a holiday in France. The French turned on their televisions to see their newly elected 39-year-old president with the current president, side by side. The two laid a wreath together under the - on the tomb of the unknown soldier under the Arc de Triomphe, two generations passing the torch. It was very symbolic.

So last night, as as I said, people were euphoric. And we saw a multi-ethnic France pouring out. People were overjoyed. They were also relieved. I talked to 27-year-old Leonard Cologne (ph), and he told me that France has stopped the right-wing populist movement going through Europe. And he says this new president changes everything. Here he is.

LEONARD COLOGNE: That will have a huge impact on the way in which everyone will see France as, you know, a symbol of the future - of something that is moving forward. It's like, you know, a new revolution - a new French revolution.

GREENE: He sounds so inspired there. But, I mean, the reality for Macron now that he is taking office will be, I mean, a difficult road ahead, right? I mean, what is he saying right now?

BEARDSLEY: Well, exactly. He spoke last night. And in contrast to, you know, the euphoria at his celebration, he was pretty serious. And he said he measures the - you know, the grave situation the country is in after terrorists attacks, lagging economy, high unemployment and the divisions. He says he wants to heal the country. And he had a word for Le Pen voters. Here he is speaking to his supporters about it.


EMMANUEL MACRON: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Now he told his crowd, do not boo her. He always wants to keep the positive tone. He said, they expressed anger and despair and even conviction. He said, I respect that. But he says he's going to do everything possible in the next five years to make sure that no one has any reason to vote for extremists anymore.

GREENE: Well, and we should say a lot of people - I mean, I know Marine Le Pen would not call herself an extremist - but a third of the country voted for her, right? She's far-right. I mean, that has to say something.

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely, David. It's the biggest score she's ever had - this party's ever had. It's for sure that their debate and many of the things they talk about are now part of the political mainstream - you know, immigration, mass immigration, globalization. Is it a great thing, globalization? Maybe not - she calls it savage globalization. So many things that were her subjects are now part of the political landscape in France.

GREENE: So Eleanor, speaking of Macron's challenges ahead, I mean, is he basically waking up as president the same way an American president would wake up and have won an election but realized that he or she has no one in his or her own party in the Parliament - is that - is that right?

BEARDSLEY: It is, David. It's an unheard of situation. There's legislative elections next month. He needs to get a majority to put his program in place and to govern. And he has not one person in five - in a 577-member Parliament. So the question is, will there be a Macron legislative wave where he'll sweep the country? He does have candidates ready - 577. But the far-right and left say that they're going to fight him every step of the way. So it's going to be tough.

GREENE: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley speaking to us in Paris. Eleanor, thanks as always.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.