Dubai – Emmanuel Macron has been declared president of France on Sunday with a business-friendly vision of European integration, resoundingly defeating Marine Le Pen, the far-right nationalist who threatened to pull out of the European Union.
This victory will bring huge relief to European allies who feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain’s vote to quit the EU and Donald Trump’s election as US president.
The 39-year-old former investment banker, who served for two years as economy minister but has never previously held elected office, will now become France’s youngest leader since Napoleon with a promise to transcend outdated left-right divisions.
Three projections, issued within minutes of polling stations closing at 8pm (1800GMT), showed Macron beating Le Pen by about 65 percent to 35 – a gap wider than the 20 or so percentage points that pre-election surveys had pointed to.
“A new page in our long history has turned tonight,” Macron said in a statement shortly after the projections were announced.
“I want it to be that of rediscovery of hope and trust.”
“He only just launched his political movement a year ago, and so many people at the time said he was too young, that he had no political experience … and here he is, one year on, France’s youngest president.”
Le Pen called to congratulate Macron shortly after news broke of her defeat, telling her supporters and members of the press she wished the new president “success” even though he faces “huge challenges”.
She added, her FN party needed to undergo a “profound transformation” in order to create a “new political force”.
The 48-year-old’s share of the vote was set to be almost twice that won by her father Jean-Marie, the last National Front candidate to qualify for a presidential runoff, who was trounced by Jacques Chirac in 2002.