President Macron welcomes his victory in the French presidential election on Sunday night President Macron welcomes his victory in the French presidential election on Sunday night 

French Bishops welcome Macron re-election, lament growing divisions

Following the re-election of Emmanuel Macron as President of France, the president of the French Bishops’ Conference says voters made a reasonable choice but notes that the results show growing political divisions.

By Susy Hodges

Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as France’s President on Sunday with 58% of the vote, compared with 41% for his rival, Marine Le Pen.

In his victory speech, President Macron promised to address the deep divisions within France laid bare by the election results. This concern over the growing divisions in the nation was also voiced by France’s Catholic Bishops in their reaction to the outcome.

Macron has become the first incumbent president in France in 20 years to be re-elected, although his margin of victory was lower than in the 2017 race.

Addressing supporters after his victory, Macron vowed to find answers to the “anger and disagreements” that led many French people to vote for Le Pen.

He also acknowledged that many people voted for him only to prevent his far-right rival from winning, and promised to be a president for all.

Low turnout for French election standards

Despite her defeat, Le Pen said her significant vote share still marked a resounding victory. She had campaigned on a platform of tax cuts to tackle the spiralling cost of living, a ban on wearing the Muslim headscarf in public, and a referendum to control immigration.

Turnout was just under 72%, the lowest in a presidential run-off poll for more than 50 years, and over 3 million people cast spoilt or blank ballots.

Macron’s re-election was welcomed by European leaders some of whom had expressed concern about Le Pen’s anti-EU policies.

Voting according to conscience

Throughout the election campaign, France’s Catholic Bishops had not taken sides but urged their compatriots to vote according to their conscience, in the light of the Gospel and the Church’s social doctrine.

In an interview (in French) following the results, the President of the French Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Eric de Moulins Beaufort, was asked by Vatican Radio for his analysis of the outcome.

The Archbishop said that the people of France had undoubtedly made a “choice of reason”.

He added that the outcome showed that most of them had not wanted to venture into the unchartered territory represented by the election of Le Pen, and had rejected some of the measures she was proposing.

Archbishop de Moulins Beaufort said what is “worrying for the future of our country” is that this election result reveals “the growing divisions” within France, not merely the geographical ones but also perhaps between “the rich and the poor.”

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25 April 2022, 14:47