Macron sweeps to French Presidency

Paris
8 May 2017

Pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron promised today to heal France's divisions after crushing far- right leader Marine Le Pen in a pivotal presidential election that has given him a large but fragile mandate for change.

At 39, the pro-EU former investment banker will become France's youngest-ever leader but will face a huge challenge to enact his programme while trying to unite a fractured and demoralised country. "I will fight with all my strength against the divisions that are undermining us," Macron said in a solemn address at his campaign headquarters, adding that he had seen the "anger, anxiety and doubts" of many voters. The vicious election campaign exposed deep economic and social divisions in France, as well as tensions provoked by identity and immigration.

Initial estimates showed Macron winning between 65 per cent and 66.1 per cent of the ballots in the first ever election he has contested, far ahead of Le Pen on 33.9 per cent and 35 per cent. Vast crowds of jubilant Macron supporters celebrated outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, waving French flags. "He's a symbol of hope," said Jean-Luc Songtia, 36. "It's like Obama eight years ago. It's youth, it's hope."

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.