German centrists cheer on Macron into French election second round

As results on Sunday showed centrist Emmanuel Macron ahead of far-right Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election, German centrists reacted with joy, seeing hope in their own election prospects.

German centrists cheer on Macron into French election second round
Emmanuel Macron. Photo: AP/DPA.

Presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will move on to the second round of the election on May 7th, with Macron winning nearly 24 percent of the vote compared to Le Pen’s 21.4 percent.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s official spokesman on Sunday wished Macron “all the best for the next two weeks”, as projections showed him winning France's presidential election. 

“It's good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with his course for a strong EU and social market economy,” said spokesman Steffen Seibert in a tweet.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also hailed the results putting Macron ahead of Marine Le Pen.

“I'm sure he will sweep away the far-right, right-wing populism and the anti-Europeans in the second round,” Gabriel said in a video posted on Twitter during a trip to Jordan's capital Amman.

The Social Democrat (SPD) wrote on Twitter: “I'm glad that @EmmanuelMacron is leading the field. He was the only truly pro-European candidate.”

Gabriel's party had officially supported beleaguered French Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon – who was projected to finish with only around six percent of the vote – but party officials indicated they were more closely politically aligned with Macron.

For Germany the French election bears particular resonance because the Bundesrepublik will hit the voting booths itself in September, with its own far-right party the Alternative for Germany (AfD) looking to gain its first seats in the German parliament (Bundestag).

The AfD hosted a “European counter-summit” in Koblenz in January with far-right leaders from across the continent, with Le Pen headlining the event.

And on Sunday, AfD co-leader Frauke Petry – who announced last week she would not run in the September election – retweeted congratulations to Le Pen from one of her fellow party members.

But Macron’s success also gave the centre-left SPD confidence as the current junior coalition partner to Merkel’s conservative Union parties seeks to gain a leg up in Germany’s election, with its own chancellor candidate, Martin Schulz, seen as being a competitive rival to Merkel as she vies for a fourth term.

SPD Bundestag faction leader Thomas Oppermann said that Macron’s results on Sunday as a liberal politician could be used to fight against far-right parties in Germany.

“After the Netherlands, the French have now also issued a rejection by the majority to those who are hostile to Europe: Europe votes European,” Oppermann said to DPA.

“Now it is necessary in Germany to fight so that the ever more right-drifting AfD does not enter the Bundestag.”

Meanwhile Merkel's Chief of Staff Peter Altmaier from her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was also optimistic about what Macron's election achievement could mean for other countries.

“The results for Macron show that France and Europe can win together,” he wrote on Twitter.

“The middle is stronger than the populists think.”

On Twitter. the German hashtag for the French election #Frankreichwahl was the top trend in the country still on Monday morning, while Macron was also in the top ten trends.