France Defeats Far-right, Elects Macron President

PARIS – Making a highly remarkable and historic choice, French voters have elected Emmanuel Macron, who embraced the EU, immigration, and free trade, as their new president, giving far-right leader Marine Le Pen a very decisive defeat.

“A new page in our history is turning tonight,” Macron told Agence France Presse (AFP), adding he wishes it to be “the one of hope and rebound trust”.

Macron, the youngest person ever to run for Presidency in France, had never previously run for elected office.

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The former investment banker, 39, claimed 65.1 percent to Le Pen’s 34.9 percent, according to numbers announced by France2 at 8 pm Paris time as the polls closed.

Those percentages closely match that of the last poll produced Friday by Ipsos.

During the second round of election, Macron was widely supported by Muslims who were fearful of Le Pen’s anti-Muslim policies.

In 2015, Le Pen was tried and cleared of inciting religious hatred after comparing Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation. Macron has insisted that Le Pen still represents “the party of hatred”.

He told a Paris rally this week: “I won’t accept people being insulted just because they believe in Islam.”

“This says something great: in choosing the youngest president of the Republic, France is sending a message of hope to the world,” veteran centrist François Bayrou, who backed Macron early on in the race, wrote on Twitter.

Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to Washington, celebrated the results of the vote.

Outgoing Socialist Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has put out a statement, saying “voters have today rejected the extreme right’s dismal project, and shown their unmovable commitment to the values of the Republic”.

The result is the third consecutive defeat for a European far-right populist party, including Geert Wilders’s high-profile loss in the Netherlands back in March.