Macron defeats far-right Le Pen in French election: projections

AFP |

Macron, 44, is to make a victory speech at the foot of the Eiffel Tower where flag-waving supporters erupted in joy when the projections appeared

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday defeated his rival Marine Le Pen in presidential elections, projections showed, prompting a wave of relief in Europe that the far-right had been prevented from taking power.

Centrist Macron was set to win 57.0-58.5 percent of the vote compared with Le Pen on 41.5-43.0 percent, according to projections by polling firms for French television channels based on a sample of the vote count.

The result is narrower than the second-round clash in 2017, when the same two candidates met in the run-off and Macron polled over 66 percent of the vote.

The outcome, expected to be confirmed by official results overnight, caused immense relief in Europe after fears a Le Pen presidency would leave the continent rudderless following Brexit and the departure of German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called Macron’s victory “great news for all of Europe”.

EU president Charles Michel said the bloc can now “count on France for five more years” while commission chief Ursula von der Leyen rapidly congratulated him saying she was “delighted to be able to continue our excellent cooperation”.

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