PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected on Sunday with about 58 percent of the vote to defeat far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, who scored about 42 percent.
Projections from several polling companies, published after polling stations closed Sunday night, all showed similar results for the crucial second round of elections, making Macron the first French president in two decades to win another term.
Official results are expected later in the evening, but the projection means the centered settler can be sure he has secured himself another five years at the Elysée Palace.
The result marks continuity for France on the international stage and will be met with relief in Brussels and major EU capitals as a victory against Euroscepticism.
The persistent EU-friendly Macron had lined up the election as a “referendum on Europe” and against Le Pen, who raged against the EU and wanted to leave NATO’s integrated military command.
“It is important to mark this historic victory,” Clément Beaune, France’s Minister for Europe, told reporters at a rally of the president’s supporters in front of the Eiffel Tower.
“We beat a right-wing extremist project, a right-wing extremist candidate, it’s amazing. But we must not forget the citizens who voted for her because they were angry or defiant. We have to unite them,” he said.
Macron and Le Pen took the lead in the first round of elections two weeks ago, making Sunday’s re-election a repeat of their duel for the presidency five years ago.
The result this time is narrower than in 2017, when Macron defeated Le Pen by 66 percent of the vote.
Macron did better than many polls had predicted ahead of Sunday’s vote. But Le Pen’s score marks a historic high point for France’s far right, and she claimed the victory even in defeat.
“It’s a striking victory,” Marine Le Pen said in his concession speech to supporters in Paris.
“Millions chose the camp for nationalism and change … We will not forget this France of the forgotten,” she said.
Her score “represents [a sign] of great distrust of our French leaders as well as of our European leaders, ”added Le Pen.
Macron has vowed to enforce domestic reforms in his second term, after his first term was overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and mass protests against the French establishment and his policies.
The French president says he has learned from past mistakes and will use new ways to get the parties to work together.
His promise to reform French state pensions and push the legal retirement age back to 64 or 65 is a possible hotspot in the coming months.
France will vote in a parliamentary election in June, and Macron must also secure a majority in the National Assembly if he wants to push through his reforms.
In the first round of voting on April 10, Macron came out on top with 27.8 percent against 23.1 percent for Le Pen.
This article has been updated.