Paris - Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France on Sunday after winning 65.5 percent of the votes.
Macron, who has a business-friendly vision of European integration, defeated Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who threatened to take France out of the European Union. Macron told AFP that his victory in Sunday's election represented hope and a new chapter for France. A new chapter in our long history begins tonight. I want it to be one of hope and renewed confidence, Macron said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman welcomed Macron's resounding win in France's presidential election on Sunday as a victory for a strong and united Europe. Congratulations, @EmmanuelMacron. Your victory is a victory for a strong and united Europe and for French-German friendship, wrote Steffen Seibert in French and German on Twitter. Turnout in the French presidential run-off election was 65.30 percent at 1500 GMT on Sunday, lower than both the first round and the 2012 vote, data from the interior ministry showed.
The figure was 6.6 points lower than in the 2012 run-off for president, and about four points down from this year's first round of voting on April 23. With Macron the pollsters' favorite, voting stations opened across mainland France at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against extremist attacks. Polling agency projections and initial official results will be available when the final stations close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT). At 11 am local time, Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, the front-runner in France's presidential election, cast his vote in the coastal town of Le Tourquet in northern France alongside his wife, Brigitte Macron.
The former Socialist economy minister and one-time banker was all smiles and petted a black dog as he stepped out of his vacation home in the seaside resort. For security reasons, Macron was driven to his nearby polling station at Le Touquet City Hall and shook hands with a large crowd of supporters before he and his wife entered the building. Macron had a large polling lead over far-right leader Marine Le Pen going into Sunday's presidential runoff election.
At 11:20 a.m., far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has cast her ballot in Henin-Beaumont, a small northern town controlled by her National Front party. Le Pen arrived at the polling station with Henin-Beaumont Mayor Steeve Briois, who took over as the National Front's leader during the presidential election campaign. She was able to vote without any incident after feminist activists were briefly detained a couple of hours earlier Sunday for hanging a big anti-Le Pen banner from a church.
Earlier in the day, outgoing French president Francois Hollande has cast his vote in the runoff election to replace him. He voted in his political fiefdom of Tulle in southwestern France. Hollande, the most unpopular French leader in the country's modern history, decided not to stand for re-election last year. The Socialist president has called on voters to reject far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and to back centrist Emmanuel Macron, his former protege.
At 12:10 p.m., France's Interior Ministry said the voter turnout in the country's presidential runoff election so far was running slightly lower than it was in 2012. The ministry said as of midday Sunday that 28.23 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots, compared with the 30.66 percent half-day tally during the last presidential runoff five years ago.
Source: International Islamic News Agency