Pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron wins France’s landmark presidential election, heading off a fierce challenge from the far-right in a pivotal vote for the future of the divided country and Europe.
Initial estimates show Macron winning between 65.5 percent and 66.1% of ballots ahead of Le Pen on between 33.9% and 34.5%.
The victory caps an extraordinary rise for the 39-year-old former investment banker, who will become the country’s youngest-ever leader.
He has promised to heal a fractured and demoralized country after a vicious campaign that has exposed deep economic and social divisions, as well as tensions around identity and immigration.
Unknown three years ago, Macron is now poised to become one of Europe’s most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.
The result will resonate worldwide and particularly in Brussels and Berlin where leaders will breathe a sigh of relief that Le Pen’s anti-EU, anti-globalization program has been defeated.