PARIS (CBSNEWS/AP) – French voters elected Emmanuel Macron as the country’s youngest president ever on Sunday, delivering a resounding victory to the unabashedly pro-European former investment banker and strengthening France’s place as a central pillar of the European Union.
The French prime minister has said 39-year-old Macron won the election, and French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen says she called Macron to congratulate him on his victory.
France’s outgoing president, Francois Hollande, also called Macron on Sunday evening to congratulate him.
A crowd of Macron supporters roared with delight at the news, jubilantly waving red, white and blue tricolor flags at a victory party outside the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The result wasn’t even close: Pollsters projected that Macron won 65 percent of the votes. Le Pen’s projected 35 percent score was lower than her polling numbers earlier in the campaign, and dashed her hopes that the populist wave which swept Donald Trump into the White House would also carry her to France’s presidential Elysee Palace.
Macron’s victory marked the third time in six months — following elections in Austria and the Netherlands — that European voters shot down far-right populists who wanted to restore borders across Europe. The election of a French president who championed European unity could strengthen the EU’s hand in its complex divorce proceedings with Britain, which voted last year to leave the bloc.