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Emmanuel Macron: French president-elect to fight ‘forces of division’

Emmanuel Macron has vowed to fight “the forces of division that undermine France” after easily winning the run-off election for the French presidency.

The centrist candidate, 39, defeated the far right’s Marine Le Pen, winning 66.1% of the vote to her 33.9%.

Acknowledging his victory, Mr Macron told supporters he wanted to ensure Le Pen voters “no longer have a reason to vote for an extremist position”.

The sense of relief among European Union leaders has been palpable.

Mr Macron was elected on a pro-EU platform, while Ms Le Pen by contrast threatened to pull out of the single currency and hold an in/out referendum on France’s membership of the EU.

What did Macron say?

In a speech to jubilant supporters, Mr Macron said: “Tonight you won, France won. Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France.”

His win makes him France’s youngest president and overturns the decades-long dominance of France’s two main political parties.

Media captionMacron says he has heard the “rage and anxiety” of the people

But huge challenges remain, with a third of the electorate choosing Ms Le Pen and even more abstaining or casting a blank ballot.

Mr Macron said he had heard “the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed”, vowing to spend his five years in office “fighting the forces of division that undermine France”.

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He will be sworn in on Sunday, outgoing President François Hollande said.

Macron speech in full

How has the world reacted?

Most of those running the EU were breathing a sigh of relief, given Ms Le Pen’s policies and last year’s Brexit vote.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted “happy that the French chose a European future” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Mr Macron’s win as a “victory for a strong united Europe”.

Emmanuel Macron and François Hollande attend events commemorating the Second World WarImage copyrightAFP
Image captionOn Monday Mr Macron attended war commemorations with outgoing President François Hollande

US President Donald Trump, who previously praised Ms Le Pen, tweeted his congratulations to Mr Macron for the “big win” and said he looked forward to working with him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said amid the “growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism” it was important to “join forces to ensure international stability and security”.

What are Macron’s main challenges?

With parliamentary elections in June, he will be campaigning on behalf of his new movement En Marche (On The Move) to get the seats he needs to pursue his legislative agenda.

The grouping, founded just over a year ago, does not yet have a presence in parliament. If he cannot gain a majority he may have to form a coalition.

His campaign pledges included cutting 120,000 public-sector jobs, reducing public spending by €60bn (£50bn; $65bn), and lowering the unemployment rate from its current level of about 10% to below 7%.

He vowed to ease labour laws and give new protections to the self-employed.

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A victory – for now: analysis by Katya Adler, BBC Europe editor

Emmanuel Macron has won the presidency. He now needs to win over the French people.

Many of those who voted for him did so to stop Marine Le Pen. They remain to be convinced by his political programme -unlike Brussels, which is delighted.

Media captionEmmanuel Macron’s unconventional route to political stardom in France

EU leaders believe Marine Le Pen’s defeat is a strong sign that Eurosceptic nationalism is now ebbing. But while far-right populists have been defeated in Austria, the Netherlands and France, the barbed issues that drove voters to them – unemployment, immigration and fear of globalisation – remain to be resolved.

France’s deep political divisions will become evident once again in the lead-up to parliamentary elections.

The question remains: will Emmanuel Macron, inexperienced in politics and with his fledgling party be able to form the credible government needed to pass the reforms he promises?


Where does this leave Le Pen?

She won almost double the tally her father Jean-Marie won in 2002, the last time a far-right candidate made the French presidential run-off.

Although she performed worse than final polls had indicated, her anti-globalisation, anti-immigrant, high-spending manifesto attracted an estimated 11 million votes.

Marine Le Pen delivers a speech on stage after losing the French presidential run-offImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMs Le Pen came a distant second but has promised to fight on

She said the election had shown a division between “patriots and globalists” and called for the emergence of a new political force.

Ms Le Pen said her National Front party needed to renew itself and that she would start the “deep transformation of our movement”, vowing to lead it into next month’s parliamentary elections.

Read more at BBC.co.uk

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