With counting still under way, projections by France’s five main pollsters put Macron on course to win about 58% of the vote in Sunday’s runoff compared with 42% for Le Pen. The euro rose after the nationalist leader conceded defeat in a speech to her supporters in Paris.
Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election on a pro-business, pro-European Union platform, bolstering the bloc in the midst of its worst security crisis in decades.
The 44-year-old Macron becomes the first incumbent to win a second term since Jacques Chirac two decades ago. With campaigning shaped by the war in Ukraine, his pledge to make France a cornerstone of a stronger, more integrated EU won out over the nativism and protectionism championed by Le Pen.
The outcome is good news for investors who had predicted that a Le Pen victory would deliver a shock to markets on the scale of the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU or the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. The euro opened up 0.5% against the dollar and reached 1.0815 in early Sydney trading.
Yet the margin of victory is far narrower than last time, when Macron beat Le Pen by more than 30 points. The rise in support for her nationalist program reflects a bitterly divided country. Macron sought to reach out to his opponents in his victory speech, urging his supporters not to boo his rival.
“I am no longer the candidate for one side, I am the president for everyone,” he said at a rally beneath the Eiffel Tower in the center of the French capital. He acknowledged that many people had voted for him simply to stop the advance of the far-right, rather than because they backed his ideas.
Attention is already turning to the legislative elections planned for June, when Macron will be defending the parliamentary majority he needs to push through his program. The results puts the president in a relatively strong position, though he will probably need to form alliances with other parties and Le Pen urged her supporters to continue their campaigning ahead of that vote.
“The result in itself represents a stunning victory,” Le Pen said, before leading her supporters in a chorus of the national anthem. “Millions of people voted for the national camp and for change.”
Macron’s challenge over the next five years will be to heal the rifts in the country and muster support for his plans to make the country more competitive by overhauling social policies such as pensions and improving the country’s economic fundamentals.