French election: Le Pen claims 'historic, massive result' for French far-right despite projected defeat

Front National leader says her party must be 'profoundly transformed'

Benjamin Kentish
Sunday 07 May 2017 19:19 BST
Marine Le Pen said victory for Emmanuel Macron marked a vote for 'continuity'
Marine Le Pen said victory for Emmanuel Macron marked a vote for 'continuity'

Marine Le Pen has conceded defeat in the French presidential election after projections suggested she is on course to be heavily defeated by centrist Emmanuel Macron.

The Front National leader said the French people had voted for “continuity” and wished Mr Macron luck in dealing with the “challenges” facing France.

Despite projections suggesting she is likely to receive 35 per cent of votes, Ms Le Pen claimed a “historic, massive result” for the French far-right as she significantly increased the number of ballots cast for the Front National since her father, Jean-Marie, ran for president in 2002.

In her concession speech, Ms Le Pen said she believed the Front National needed to be "profoundly transformed".

She promised to “lead the fight” in France’s parliamentary elections next month and pledged to create “a new political force”.

"The National Front ... must deeply renew itself in order to rise to the historic opportunity and meet the French people's expectations," Ms Le Pen said.

"I will propose to start this deep transformation of our movement in order to make a new political force."

It is not immediately clear how she hopes to achieve this aim, but commentators suggested she could disband the party and build a new movement without the name of the Front National, which has been plagued with accusations of racism and anti-Semitism since it was founded by her father.

Mr Macron is forecast to have received around 65 per cent of votes in Sunday's run-off after a contest that has turned France's political system on its head.

Neither of the two main parties - the Socialists and the Republicans - had a candidate in the final round of voting. Mr Macron's predicted victory marks a stunning rise to power only a year since he founded his movement, En Marche!, after leaving the Socialist Party where he served in the cabinet of Francois Hollande, the current president.

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