“Emmanuel Macron was elected 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.
The centrist’s emphatic victory, which also smashed the dominance of France’s mainstream parties, 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.
Voting underway in French presidential election
Macron – 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previously held elected office – will now become France’s youngest leader since Napoleon with a promise to transcend outdated left-right divisions.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,” said Macron in a brief address to the press after the results were announced.
“I want it to be that of rediscovery of hope and trust.”
He promised to “fight the divisions that undermine France” and to “rebuild the links between Europe and its citizens”.
Al Jazeera’s Natasha Butler, reporting from Macron headquarters outside the Louvre Museum, called his win “an extraordinary story”.