We did a good job! Macron camp REFUSES to change course despite EU election loss to Le Pen

Mr Ferrand told broadcaster RTL on Monday: “There is of course some disappointment … but this will not trigger a change in the government’s reform drive nor deviate our agenda,” adding that the government remained “solid” despite the bruising defeat. He continued: “The president wants us to work more closely with citizens … and to focus on using more humane methods to implement our reform agenda.” Ms Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) rode a wave of nationalist sentiment to win the most votes in the crunch election, but the margin of victory over Mr Macron’s La République en Marche (REM) party was narrow.

The RN won 23.3 percent of the French vote and the REM 22.4 percent, according to the interior ministry. 

Both parties will have 23 seats in the EU parliament. 

Reacting to the results, Mr Macron’s lead candidate Nathalie Loiseau refused to admit defeat. 

Mrs Loiseau told Europe 1 radio on Monday: “There was no victory, but there was also no disaster and no defeat – it was a good score.”

She also argued she had done everything within her power to win over voters. 

Mrs Loiseau added: “We don’t see second place as a defeat… Within the space of two years, we have shown that the REM is here to stay and not an accident of history, that it is a party that represents France’s youth and therefore a party of the future.

“We did a good job.” 

Speaking to a crowd of supporters shortly after the results were announced on Sunday evening, Mrs Loiseau said she “regretted” coming in second place after Ms Le Pen’s RN, but that the fight against eurosceptic nationalists “isn’t over”. 

“For us, the battle isn’t over,” she insisted, adding that the REM would strive to “prevent nationalists from weakening and deconstructing” Europe. 

Mr Macron’s spokeswoman, Sibeth Ndiaye, was a little less optimistic, telling RMC radio and BFM television that the REM had “lost” the French vote. 

“We didn’t come first in this election … we didn’t come away with victory and so we lost,” she said, adding that the Macron camp was disappointed but that the final score was “honourable". 

In response to Ms Le Pen’s call for the Macron government to dissolve the French parliament and hold new elections in light of the EU result, Ms Ndiaye said: “Our score is not a score that calls for a political crisis.” 

Mr Macron has staked his presidency on persuading Europeans that the EU is the answer to the challenges of an uncertain, globalising world economy, and his centrist movement coming behind Mrs Le Pen’s anti-immigration, anti-Brussels RN is a brutal body blow. 

For the young centrist, the question will be whether his ambitions to be perceived as the new leader of Europe will be hampered by his second place in France.

The result, however, is a much-needed boost for Ms Le Pen, who wants to build a powerful far-right, populist alliance in Europe alongside Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini and other nationalist figures who think EU member states have been stripped of their sovereignty by Brussels. 

The EU election will also mark the start of weeks and possibly months of tough bargaining over who will run the EU’s key institutions: the European Commission, the EU Council, the parliament itself, the bloc’s foreign policy and its central bank. 

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