Pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron resoundingly won France's landmark presidential election, first estimates showed on Sunday, heading off a fierce challenge from the Far Right in a pivotal vote for the future of the divided country and Europe.
The victory caps an extraordinary rise for the 39-year-old former investment banker, who will become the country's youngest-ever leader.
He has promised to heal a fractured and demoralised country after a vicious campaign that has exposed deep economic and social divisions, as well as tensions around identity and immigration.
Initial estimates showed Macron winning between 65.5 percent and 66.1 percent of ballots ahead of Le Pen on between 33.9 percent and 34.5 percent.
Unknown three years ago, Macron is now poised to become one of Europe's most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.
The result will resonate worldwide and particularly in Brussels and Berlin where leaders will breathe a sigh of relief that Le Pen's anti-EU, anti-globalisation programme has been defeated.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Macron adn said that he looks forward to working with him.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 8, 2017
Outgoing French President Francois Hollande "warmly congratulated" his successor Emmanuel Macron on his victory in today's election, the president's office said.
"I called Emmanuel Macron this evening to warmly congratulate him on his election to the presidency," Hollande was quoted as saying in a statement.
Marine Le Pen said she had called Macron to wish him success.
"I called Mr Macron to congratulate him on his election, and because I have the country's higher interest at heart I wished him success faced with the huge challenges France is facing," she told supporters at a post-election FN gathering in Vincennes near Paris.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman welcomed Emmanuel Macron's resounding win in France's presidential election today as a "victory for a strong and united Europe".
"Congratulations, Emmanuel Macron. 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.
Herzlichen Glückwunsch, @EmmanuelMacron. Ihr Sieg ist ein Sieg für ein starkes geeintes Europa + für die deutsch-französische Freundschaft.
— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) May 7, 2017
Separately, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel hailed Macron's win for keeping France "at the heart of Europe".
"Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite! France chose that today. The great nation was, is, and remains in the middle and at the heart of Europe," wrote Gabriel on Twitter, using France's national slogan which means "liberty, equality, fraternity".
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité! Das hat #Frankreich heute gewählt. Die Grande Nation war, ist und bleibt in der Mitte und im Herzen Europas.
— Sigmar Gabriel (@sigmargabriel) May 7, 2017
Merkel and her government had thrown their support behind Macron against Far Right and anti-EU challenger Marine Le Pen.
The US President Donald Trump congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his victory in the French presidential elections and said he looks forward to working with him.
Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France. I look very much forward to working with him! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2017
The White House later issued a statement congratulating Macron.
"We congratulate President-elect Macron and the people of France on their successful presidential election," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
"We look forward to working with the new President and continuing our close cooperation with the French government," Spicer said in a statement.
US lawmakers joined the White House in congratulating Macron.
"The French people have chosen hope over fear, chosen to look forward rather than backward. They have rejected the kind of divisive campaigning, assisted by fake news and Russian hacks, that propelled Donald Trump into office in our count," said House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer.
"They have struck a blow for inclusive, tolerant democracy against the tide of extremism and xenophobia. I look forward to supporting President-elect Macron's efforts to preserve the European Union and to strengthen the liberal international order that has brought security to the United States, France, our NATO partners, and our other allies since the end of the Second World War," Hoyer said.
Senator Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee applauded the French people's rejection of isolationism and embrace of a Europe — whole, free, and at peace.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Emmanuel Macron on winning France's presidential election.
"I look forward to working closely with President-elect Macron in the years ahead as we work together on a progressive agenda to promote international security, increase collaboration in science and technology, and create good, middle class jobs on both sides of the Atlantic," he said in a statement on Sunday.
"This also includes implementing the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement."
"Canada and France share a warm and historic relationship, rooted in our common history, deep cultural ties, people-to-people connections, and strong economic partnership," Trudeau added.
He pledged more cooperation on issues such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, G7, G20 and La Francophonie, the international organization of French-speaking countries.
British Prime Minister Theresa May "warmly" congratulated France's Emmanuel Macron after estimates showed he had won the country's presidential race, Downing Street said.
"The Prime Minister warmly congratulates President-elect Macron on his election success.
"France is one of our closest allies and we look forward to working with the new President on a wide range of shared priorities," a Downing Street spokesman said in a statement.
The British prime minister discussed Brexit with French president-elect Emmanuel Macron following his election victory on Sunday, her Downing Street office said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan celebrated the results on Twitter:
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) May 7, 2017
Macron in February took his election campaign to London — home to the majority of an estimated 300,000-plus French citizens in Britain — where he urged them to bring their talents home to France.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker took to Twitter to congratulate the Centrist leader.
Félicitations @EmmanuelMacron! Heureux que les Français aient choisi un avenir européen. Ensemble pour une #Europe plus forte et plus juste pic.twitter.com/GWlxKYs4hL — Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) May 7, 2017
EU Council President Donald Tusk also offered his congratulations, saying the French had chosen "liberty, equality and fraternity" and "said no to the tyranny of fake news".
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told AFP: "We have received a vote of confidence from France in the European Union."
Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras said Macron's victory was "an inspiration for France and for Europe", adding he was "sure we will work closely together."
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy congratulated Macron on Twitter.
— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) May 7, 2017
"I am delighted that a leader with a positive ambition for Europe has won this election," said Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. "There's lots of work ahead for all of us in Europe, in a challenging environment, not least on Brexit."
"This is a victory for the French people and for European cooperation. New opportunities will now open up for the proactive agenda needed to strengthen the EU, including more jobs and fair working conditions, a stronger climate policy and a functioning asylum system in which everyone takes responsibility," said Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.
Defeated US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who like Macron had her campaign hacked, tweeted:
Victory for Macron, for France, the EU, & the world. Defeat to those interfering w/democracy. (But the media says I can't talk about that) — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 7, 2017
"I congratulate @EmmanuelMacron on his victory in the French presidential election. Brazil and France will continue to work together for democracy, human rights, development, integration and peace," tweeted President Michel Temer.
Felicito @EmmanuelMacron pela vitória nas eleições para Presidente da França.
— Michel Temer (@MichelTemer) May 7, 2017
Netherlands In The Netherlands, Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders commiserated with Marine Le Pen.
In Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the far-right Freedom Party, said Le Pen deserves "respect... She is from now on the strongest opposition force against Macron."
Macron "strategically positioned himself a year and a half ago as pseudo-independent," Strache said on Facebook.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: May 08, 2017 08:58 am | Updated Date: May 08, 2017 08:57 am