Centrist Emmanuel Macron has beaten National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of France’s presidential elections. Projections announced as polls closed at 19:00 UTC showed Macron taking 65% of the vote, a 30-point lead over rival Le Pen.
As results continue to come in, Macron currently takes 66% of the vote while Le Pen takes 34% with 99% reporting.
Macron, who, at 39, will be France’s youngest president when he takes office on May 14th, ran as part of the newly-created En Marché (EM), a politcal party he founded himself. Having previously belonged to the Socialist Party from 2006 to 2009, Macron ran on a promise of unity, proclaiming when he announced his presidential bid: “My aim … [is] to bring together the French people.”
His explicit pro-EU stance and support of European immigration stands in contrast to the campaign run by his rival, Marine Le Pen of the right-wing party National Front (FN). The National Front opposes France’s inclusion in the Eurozone, the Schengen Area, and the European Union itself, with Le Pen calling for a Brexit-style referendum for the French people in the hope of a so-called “Frexit.”
Many worried that such a situation would be an unrecoverable blow to the European Union, but with polls consistently placing Macron head and shoulders above Le Pen, such a referendum seemed inscreasingly less likely.
As Le Pen wished her rival well Sunday night, she insisted defiantly that the National Front has now positioned itself as the main opposition force in France.
“His large victory confirms that a very great majority of our fellow citizens wanted to rally to the values of the Republic and mark their attachment to the European Union as well as to France’s open attitude to the world,” presidential incumbent François Hollande said of Macron on Sunday.
Speaking after the election, Macron promised to fight against division and “renew the links between Europe and its citizens.”