Exit polls show Emmanuel Macron won 58% of the vote, compared with Marine Le Pen’s 42%
French President Emmanuel Macron has comfortably won re-election in the presidential run-off, according to exit polls, offering French voters and the European Union the reassurance of leadership stability as the continent grapples with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A second five-year term for Mr Macron, if confirmed by official results later on Sunday, would spare France and its allies in Europe and beyond the seismic upheaval of a shift of power in wartime.
Mr Macron’s rival, far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, quickly conceded on Sunday night.
Her campaign had pledged to dilute French ties with the 27-nation EU, the Nato military alliance and Germany would, had she won, have shaken Europe’s security architecture as the continent deals with its worst conflict since the Second World War.
Ms Le Pen also spoke out against sanctions on Russian energy supplies and faced scrutiny during the election campaign over her previous friendliness with the Kremlin.
Polling agencies’ projections released as the last voting stations closed said Mr Macron was on course to beat Ms Le Pen by a double-digit margin.
Five years ago, Mr Macron won a sweeping victory to become France’s youngest president at 39.
The margin is expected to be way smaller this time: Polling agencies Opinionway, Harris and Ifop projected that the 44-year-old pro-European centrist projected to win at least 57% of the vote.
Ms Le Pen was projected to win between 41.5% and 43% support – a still unprecedented result for the 53-year-old on her third attempt to win the French presidency.
Early official results are expected later on Sunday.
If the projections hold, Mr Macron would become only the third president since the 1958 founding of modern France to win twice at the ballot box, and the first in 20 years, since incumbent Jacques Chirac trounced Ms Le Pen’s father in 2002.
Ms Le Pen’s score this time rewarded her year-long efforts to make her far-right politics more palatable to voters.
Campaigning hard on cost-of-living issues, she made deep inroads among blue-collar voters, in disaffected rural communities and former industrial centres.
Breaking through the threshold of 40% or more of the vote is unprecedented for the French far-right.
Ms Le Pen was beaten 66% to 34% by Mr Macron in 2017.
And her father got less than 20% against Mr Chirac.
Several hundred Macron supporters gathered in front of the Eiffel Tower, singing the national anthem and waving French and European flags as television stations broadcast the initial projections of his win.
Still. the projected drop in support for Mr Macron compared to five years ago points to what is expected to be a tough battle for the president to rally people behind him in his second term.
Many French voters found the 2022 rematch less compelling than in 2017, when Mr Macron was an unknown factor, having never previously held elected office.
Published: by Radio NewsHub