US President Donald Trump has congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his “big win” in the French presidential election and said he looks forward to working with him, downplaying the tacit support he had offered to the centrist leader’s main rival Marine Le Pen ahead of the polls.
“Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next president of France. I look very much forward to working with him!” Mr. Trump tweeted after the poll results came in.
The White House later issued a statement congratulating the pro-European Union Mr. Macron, who will become France’s youngest-ever leader at the age of 39.
“We congratulate President-elect Macron and the people of France on their successful presidential election,” said Press Secretary Sean Spicer. “We look forward to working with the new president and continuing our close cooperation with the French government,” Mr. Spicer said according to the statement.
Mr. Macron defeated the far-right leader Ms. Le Pen.
Ms. Le Pen’s decisive defeat, with an estimated 35 per cent votes, has put Mr. Trump in a slightly tricky spot after he had indicated support for her ahead of the first round of the polls.
Mr. Trump had tweeted that Ms. Le Pen could benefit from the security fears in France over intermittent terrorist attacks.
He had said a deadly attack against a police officer in the Champs-Elysee in Paris would have a “big effect” on the presidential election and praised Ms. Le Pen, calling her “the strongest on what has been going on in France.”
Though Mr. Trump never endorsed Ms. Le Pen, in an interview to an American news agency he did say that he thought the attack would “probably help” her.
His predecessor Barack Obama had released a video last week backing Mr. Macron.
On Sunday, American lawmakers also joined the White House in congratulating Mr. Macron, a former investment banker whose win in the French polls represented the most significant response from the liberals to the populist and nationalist wave that brought Mr. Trump to power in the November presidential election.
“The French people have chosen hope over fear, chosen to look forward rather than backward. They have rejected the kind of divisive campaigning, assisted by fake news and Russian hacks, that propelled Donald Trump into office in our count,” said House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer.
“They have struck a blow for inclusive, tolerant democracy against the tide of extremism and xenophobia.”
Senator Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, applauded the French people’s rejection of isolationism and embrace of a Europe — “whole, free, and at peace.”
The results, Mr. Cardin said, sent the “strongest possible” message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that his worldview has once again been rejected by European voters.
“In spite of allegations of Russian interference similar to that seen in our country last year, democratic institutions across France proved resilient,” he said.