PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron was reelected Sunday with some 58 percent of the vote to defeat far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, who scored around 42 percent.
Projections from multiple polling companies, published after voting stations closed on Sunday evening, all showed similar results for the decisive second round of the election, making Macron the first French president in two decades to win a second term.
Official results are expected later in the evening but the projection means the centrist incumbent can be confident he has secured another five years in the Elysée Palace.
The result marks continuity for France on the international stage and will be greeted with relief in Brussels and major EU capitals as a victory against Euroskepticism.
The staunchly pro-EU Macron had pitched the election as a “referendum on Europe” and against Le Pen, who railed against the EU and wanted to leave NATO’s integrated military command.
“It’s important to mark this historic victory,” Clément Beaune, France’s Europe minister, told reporters at a gathering of the president’s supporters in front of the Eiffel Tower.
“We beat a far-right project, a far-right candidate, that’s great. 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 came out ahead in the first round of the election two weeks ago, making Sunday’s runoff vote 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 with 66 percent of the vote.
Macron did better than many polls had predicted in the run-up to Sunday’s vote. But Le Pen’s score marks a historic high point for France’s far right and she claimed victory even in defeat.
“It’s a striking victory,” said Marine Le Pen in her concession speech to supporters in Paris.
“Millions chose the camp for nationalism and change… We won’t forget this France of the forgotten,” she said.
Her score “represents [a sign] of great distrust for our French leaders as well as for our European leaders, ”Le Pen added.
Macron has vowed to push through domestic reforms during his second term in office, after his first term was overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and mass protests against the French establishment and its policies.
The French president says he has learned from past mistakes and will use new ways to get parties to work together.
His pledge to reform French state pensions and push the legal age of retirement back to 64 or 65 is a possible flashpoint in the months ahead.
France votes in a parliamentary election in June and Macron will also have to 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 top with 27.8 percent, against 23.1 percent for Le Pen.
This article has been updated.