Emmanuel Macron wins by 65.5 percent votes to become youngest French President
Centrist Macron emerges victorious with 65.5% vote in a campaign marked by scandal; Le Pen concedes defeat
Supporters of the newly-elected French president Emmanuel Macron celebrate in front of the Pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris on Sunday after Le Pen calls to concede. Pics/AFP
Pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron resoundingly won France's landmark presidential election, heading off a fierce challenge from the far-right in a pivotal vote for the future of the divided country and Europe. The victory caps an extraordinary rise for the 39-year-old former investment banker, who will become the country's youngest-ever leader.
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and incoming president Macron at their polling stations earlier
Initial estimates showed Macron winning 65.5 per cent ballots ahead of Le Pen's 34 per cent.
Sources said that far right candidate Marine Le Pen called Macron to concede defeat and congratulate him. She also said "The French have voted for continuity."
Unknown three years ago, Macron is now poised to become one of Europe's most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.
The result will resonate worldwide and particularly in Brussels and Berlin where leaders will breathe a sigh of relief that Le Pen's anti-EU, anti-globalisation programme has been defeated.
After Britain's vote last year to leave the EU and Donald Trump's victory in the US, the French election had been widely watched as a test of how high a tide of right-wing nationalism would rise.
Outgoing President Francois Hollande, who plucked Macron from obscurity to name him minister in 2014, said voting "is always an important, significant act, heavy with consequences" as he cast his vote.
Louvre grounds briefly evacuated
The courtyard of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where Macron was due to speak later on Sunday, was briefly evacuated after a suspect bag was found. Police said they made security checks of the area as a precaution and added that the situation there had returned to normal.
French hostage freed in Sudan: Paris
A French mineworker who was kidnapped in Chad and taken to neighbouring Sudan has been freed after more than six weeks in captivity, the French president's office said yesterday. President Francois Hollande feels "great pleasure" over the release, his office said.