By Claire Zillman
May 8, 2017

Centrist Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France on Sunday, defeating the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen 66.1% to 33.9% and sending the euro to a six-month high.

Macron, 39, will be the nation’s youngest president. A former investment banker, he has never held elected office, having previously served as economic minister under President François Hollande. His victory brought a sigh of relief to the EU, which Macron strongly supports; Le Pen had vowed to lead France out of the bloc.

In a brief acceptance speech to supporters, Macron said he had heard “the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed” over the election, promising to spend his term “fighting the forces of division that undermine France.” As president, Macron said he would “guarantee the unity of the nation and… defend and protect Europe.”

Le Pen thanked the 11 million voters who supported her and vowed to “lead the fight” in parliamentary elections next month and promised a “profound transformation” of the National Front. One adviser suggested the party would be renamed in an interview with the BBC.

Throughout her campaign, Le Pen aimed to use her gender to her advantage, referring to herself as “Marine” in campaign materials that portrayed her as a “strong Everywoman — mother, lawyer and patriot of France,” according to The New York Times. She had hoped that a bump from female voters would drive her to the presidency, but Sunday night proved that was not to be. Her 144-point platform promised a number of extreme changes, including permanently closing French borders, banning Islamic veils, and rescinding all free-trade agreements. According to an Ipsos poll, about 43% of Macron voters supported him to keep out Le Pen.

Late Sunday evening, Macron spoke before hundreds of supporters at the Louvre, greeted by the Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the EU’s anthem. “This evening, it is Europe and the world who are watching us,” he said. “I will serve you with love…Vive la République, vive la France.”



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