Emmanuel Macron last night vowed to ‘defend Europe’ minutes after becoming France’s youngest leader since Napoleon.
Macron, 39, beat far-right National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen, 48, in an election that will have widespread repercussions for the future of Europe.
He has previously stated he will not give Britain an easy Brexit deal and even branded the UK’s departure from the EU ‘a crime’. With 99.99 percent of ballots counted by this morning, Macron had 66.06 percent of the vote in the first ever election he has contested, far ahead of Le Pen at 33.94 percent. Turnout was 74.62 percent.But in a sign of widespread disillusionment, one in three voters abstained or cast a blank ballot. Just 15 minutes after the exit polls were announced, Le Pen conceded and revealed she phoned Macron to ‘congratulate’ him on his election victory. Later in the evening, Macron addressed thousands of his adoring supporters who had gathered at his election victory rally outside the Louvre in central Paris.
He walked across the sprawling historic courtyard to the music of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, the European Union anthem, and said: ‘Europe and the world are waiting for us to defend the spirit of the enlightenment everywhere.’ Addressing the jubilant crowd with a beaming smile, he said: ‘Thank you my friends. Thank you for being here tonight. You have fought with courage.
‘What we have done for so many months, everyone thought it was impossible, but they didn’t know France. I thank you for your trust. Thank you for the risk some have taken.’ Macron also addressed those who had voted for Le Pen, telling the crowd: ‘They have expressed today anger.’I respect them and I will do everything in the five years that come for there to be no reason to vote for extremists. Today there are just the French. France reunited.’
He repeatedly said the task before him was ‘immense’ adding that Europe and the world were looking to France. He added that he would work to ‘reform our Europe’.