Centrist Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential elections with 66.1 percent of the votes, according to exit polls published on Sunday, marking a victory for a unified France and Europe against the far-right Marine Le Pen, whose populist rhetoric threatened the unity of the European Union.
Le Pen clinched nearly 35 percent of the votes, four million more votes than in the first voting round last month, according to projections issued at 8:00 pm local time, when polls closed nationwide.
Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister, will be France’s youngest president in history. As an independent candidate with no formal party backing, he will face daunting challenges in cobbling together a parliamentary coalition in the upcoming two-stage round of voting on June 11 and June 18.
“I will defend France, I will defend Europe. It is our very civilization at stake,” said Macron in his victory speech Sunday night, adding that France would stand at the “forefront against terrorism.”
“A new page in our long history has turned today. I want it to be that of rediscovery of hope and trust,” he said.
A record 30 percent of voter abstention was reported on the rainy Sunday election day. Disillusioned voters — potentially influenced by the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who refrained from calling upon his constituency to join the “Republican Front” in favor of Macron in order to block Le Pen from taking power — had campaigned on social media over the last two weeks, urging French people to abstain out of protest of the two candidates.
This article continues at [Vocativ] Macron Will Be France’s President, Defeating The Far-Right Le Pen