France chooses centrist Macron over far-right Le Pen as next president

Emmanuel Macron, a centrist former economy minister who emerged from a crowded field of seasoned politicians, has won the French presidential election, a race widely viewed as a referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union.

After polling agencies initially projected Macron to receive 65 percent of the vote to far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s 35 percent, Le Pen conceded the race and French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve formally declared Macron the winner as a wave of his supporters celebrated in Paris outside the Louvre.

Macron, 39, was running in his first bid for elected office against Le Pen of the National Front, a political party founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Le Pen campaigned on a nationalist platform and has voiced skepticism about the European Union.

The upstart Macron, who resigned from his ministry position to start his own independent political party, En Marche, just over a year ago, was widely viewed as a longshot candidate when he announced his bid for the presidency. He and Le Pen advanced to a runoff election after finishing first and second in an initial vote two weeks ago.

Macron is now expected to be sworn in within days, succeeding current French President Francois Hollande. Hollande called Macron to congratulate him after polls closed on Sunday and wrote on Twitter in French that he expressed his “best wishes for success.”

Laurent Cipriani/AP Photo
Supporters of French independent centrist presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron react outside the Louvre museum in Paris, May 7, 2017.

The president-elect’s initial challenge will be to reconcile with the widespread nationalistic fervor that buoyed his opponent.

Le Pen, in her second run for the presidency following a failed bid in 2012, took steps to moderate the hard-line right-wing positions upon which her father founded the National Front.

Despite Macron’s projected wide electoral margin, turnout at the polls was far below normal and a large number of…

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