Centrist independent on course for victory by 65% to 35% margin but Le Pens defeat still marks historically high vote for Frances far right
The pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidency in a decisive victory over the far-right Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, and vowed to unite a divided and fractured France.
Macron, 39, a former economy minister who ran as a neither left nor right independent promising to shake up the French political system, took 65.1% to Le Pens 34.9%, according to initial projections from early counts.
His victory was hailed by his supporters as holding back a tide of populism after the Brexit vote and Donald Trumps victory in the US election.
Addressing thousands of supporters in the grand courtyard of the Louvre, the vast Paris palace-turned-museum, Macron said he would defend France and Europe. He said Europe and the world are watching us and waiting for us to defend the spirit of the Enlightenment, threatened in so many places.
He promised to unite a divided and fractured France, saying: I will do everything to make sure you never have reason again to vote for extremes.
Speaking of his meteoric rise and victory that was not forecast even a year ago, he said: Everyone said it was impossible. But they didnt know France!