Pro-European Union centrist Emmanuel Macron was elected next president of France on Sunday, beating far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen by a wide margin, and bringing relief to other countries and markets worried about a wave of populist upheavals.
At age 39, Macron, a former economy minister, will be the country’s youngest ever president, and the first not to belong to either of the two major political forces that have shaped politics in post-war France.
With Macron’s election, the European Union, troubled by Britain’s decision to leave it and by a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment across parts of Europe, has averted an existential crisis for the time being. The result may affect the course of general elections in Germany and Italy to be held in the near future.
“A new page in our long history has turned tonight,” Macron said. “I want it to be that of rediscovery of hope and trust.” Speaking to his supporters at the courtyard of the Louvre Palace in Paris, he pledged to protect the values of the republic.
In an address to supporters in Paris, Le Pen conceded defeat. The 48-year-old congratulated Macron on his victory and said the French people had voted for continuity.
A provisional final count by the Interior Ministry showed Macron winning 66.06 percent of the vote against Le Pen’s 33.94 percent.
The outcome was in line with opinion polls suggesting Macron was on course to beat Le Pen, who had pledged a referendum on EU membership and a hard-line policy on immigration.
Political experts said Macron succeeded in attracting significant numbers of voters who supported conservative former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round on April 23.
Macron, a former bureaucrat and investment banker, formed a political movement in April 2016 and resigned as minister of economy, industry and digital affairs in August to run in the presidential election.