Paris — Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential election with 65.5% of the votes, against 34.5% for rival Marine Le Pen, according to early exit-polling estimates from Kantar-Sofres, with about 50% of the votes tallied.
If projections hold, the victory on Sunday for the 39-year-old Macron — a staunch supporter of the European Union — is likely to placate anxious global market investors, who have fretted for weeks that far-right candidate Le Pen would win and make good on promises to yank France out of the EU, potentially unsettling the eurozone and world markets.
Macron, a virtual newcomer to politics and the youngest president of the French republic, also delivers a defeat to what has been a wave of populist sentiment sweeping through Europe — highlighted by the U.K.’s referendum last June to exit from the EU.
A former investment banker for Rothschild, Macron has never held an elected position but was an economic minister for ex-French President François Hollande in 2012 and built his own party, En Marche, or “on the move,” just last year.
Macron’s victory had been widely expected based on early polling that suggested a wide margin of victory, but a hack of the centrist candidate’s campaign, releasing a trove of documents, had led to some anxieties, ahead of the final-round vote.
Growing belief that Macron might win had helped to deliver a fillip to markets in recent trade, easing one big geopolitical risks that had weighed on investor psyche for months.