In Brief

Emmanuel Macron beats Marine Le Pen to win French presidency in a landslide victory

Europe 'breathes sigh of relief' as far-right is defeated, but new president must lead a deeply divided France

Emmanuel Macron will be the next president of France after a decisive win over his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen, winning 66.06 per cent of the vote to his rival's 33.94 per cent.

Europe has "breathed a sigh of relief" over the election of the centrist pro-European, says Reuters, as politicians and financial markets set aside fears of an anti-EU Le Pen victory.

At 39, Macron will be the youngest person ever to hold the presidency and the first in decades not to come from either of the country's major parties. 

Addressing supporters last night, he said: "A new chapter in our long history has opened this evening. I would like it to be one of hope and of renewed confidence."

Conceding defeat, Le Pen vowed to lead her Front National party to the upcoming legislative election, but warned it would be undergoing a "profound transformation".

"It is not immediately clear what she means by this," says The Guardian, "but commentators are suggesting she aims to disband the party and build a new movement, aiming to organise a major political reorganisation around the divide between patriots and globalists".

Despite her defeat, Le Pen's share of the vote was "a record performance" for the Front National and "underlined the scale of the divisions that Macron must now try to heal", Reuters says.

"More than four million people who voted on Sunday posted a blank ballot paper, a record for a presidential election," says Le Monde. Turnout was 74 per cent, the lowest since 1969.

Macron's next challenge is to secure a solid base in next month's legislative elections, which may prove difficult, says Mathieu Gallard of pollsters Ipsos.

Nearly half of Macron's voters wanted only to block a Le Pen victory, Gallard adds, while only 39 per cent say they will be comfortable with hgim securing an absolute majority in the new parliament.

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