BREAKING: Emmanuel Macron wins French presidential election

Emmanuel Macron has beaten Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s French election and taken more than 65 per cent of the vote, according to exit polls. With this landslide defeat, Macron will become the youngest president in the history of France.

According to French Interior Ministry, with a margin of 65.1 % to 34.9%, Macron, a 39-year-old pro-business centrist, defeated Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who called for France to exit the European Union.

His victory served as a relief to European allies who had feared another populist result after Britain’s vote to exit the European Union and Donald Trump’s ascension to US president last year.

Early reports showed a voter turnout of approximately 75%, lower than in the past three presidential elections.

Macron’s expected margin of victory was bigger than the gap shown by pre-election polls, which had projected a Macron victory by around 20 points.

“A new page in our long history this evening. I would like it to be one of hope and of confidence rediscovered,” the Macron campaign said in a statement.

A former investment banker, Macron served for two years under President François Hollande as Minister of Economy, Industry, and Digital Data, but had never held elected office. He only truly entered the public discourse when he rebelled against Hollande’s socialist party and ran as an independent presidential candidate for his En Marche! (Onwards!) movement.

Macron has expressed pro-businesses and pro-EU views. He built a reputation with his “Macron Law,” a controversial reform bill that allowed, among other things, longer retail hours on Sunday.

The 48-year-old Le Pen said she called Macron to congratulate him and concede the election. Shortly after polls closed, Le Pen spoke to supporters, pledging a “profound reform” of her party, the National Front, in an effort to create “a new political force.” Some have speculated that Le Pen may attempt to rename or rebrand the party to further separate it from past allegations of racism and anti-Semitism.

“Our patriotic and republican alliance will be the primary force of opposition to the programme of the new president,” Le Pen said on Sunday.

Le Pen is famed for her hardline anti-immigration views and opposition to the European Union. She has taken steps to soften the inflammatory image of the National Front her father founded, and she gained significant support among younger voters who found her antiestablishment and pro-French-worker stances appealing.

Macron will be inaugurated on May 14, when Hollande is expected to step down.

Despite Le Pen’s loss, the election marked a record result for National Front. Le Pen’s 35% was almost twice that of her father, Jean-Marie, who lost to Jacques Chirac in a presidential run-off in 2002.

Macron now faces the challenge of trying to win a parliamentary majority for his fledgling political movement En Marche! in legislative elections next month. Without a majority, he will not be able to carry out his manifesto promises. The movement is just about one year old and will have to field hundreds of candidates in the elections.

Le Pen told supporters to look ahead to the parliamentary elections and pledged to be the main voice of opposition to Macron’s movement.

Hollande released a statement via Twitter, saying that he had called Macron to congratulate him and “expressed all my best wishes for the success of our country.”

France’s prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve released a statement congratulating Macron on his win, saying that voters rejected the “fatal project of the extreme right” and upheld the values of France.

After winning the first round two weeks ago, Macron had been accused of behaving as if he was already president. On Sunday night, with victory finally sealed, he was much more solemn.

“I know the divisions in our nation, which have led some to vote for the extremes. I respect them. I know the anger, the anxiety, the doubts that very many of you have also expressed. It’s my responsibility to hear them,” he said. “I will work to recreate the link between Europe and its peoples, between Europe and citizens,” Macron said in an address at his campaign headquarters.

France’s biggest labor union, the CFDT, welcomed Macron’s victory but said the National Front’s score was still worryingly high.

“Now, all the anxieties expressed at the ballot by a part of the electorate must be heard. The feeling of being disenfranchised, of injustice, and even abandonment is present among a large number of our citizens,” said the CFDT in a statement.

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