French President Emmanuel Macron won re-election on Sunday, convincingly defeating his rival Marine Le Pen and prompting a wave of relief in Europe that the far-right had been kept out of power.
Centrist Macron was set to win around 58 percent of the vote in the second-round run-off compared with Le Pen on 42 percent, according to projections by polling firms for French television channels based on a sample of the vote count.
Macron is the first French president to win a second term for two decades, but Le Pen’s result also marks the closest the far-right has ever come to taking power in France and has revealed a deeply divided nation.
The 44-year-old president faces a litany of challenges in his second term, starting with parliamentary elections in June, where keeping a majority will be critical to ensuring he can realise his ambitions to reform France.
The outcome was expected to be confirmed by official results overnight with the final figures due on Monday.
In a victory speech on the Champ de Mars in central Paris at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, Macron vowed to respond to the anger of voters who backed his far-right rival, saying his new term would not continue unchanged from the last five years.’
“An answer must be found to the anger and disagreements that led many of our compatriots to vote for the extreme right. It will be my responsibility and that of those around me,” he told thousands of cheering supporters.
He also pledged a “renewed method” to govern France, adding that this “new era” would not be one of “continuity with the last term which is now ending”.