Emmanuel Macron: French president-elect to fight ‘forces of division’

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  • To visit Merkel in first foreign trip as French president

Emmanuel Macron has vowed to fight “the forces of division that undermine France” after easily winning the run-off election for the French presidency.

The centrist candidate, 39, defeated the far right’s Marine Le Pen, winning 66.1% of the vote to her 33.9%.

Acknowledging his victory, Mr Macron told supporters he wanted to ensure Le Pen voters “no longer have a reason to vote for an extremist position”.

The sense of relief among European Union leaders has been palpable.

Mr Macron was elected on a pro-EU platform, while Ms Le Pen by contrast threatened to pull out of the single currency and hold an in/out referendum on France’s membership of the EU.

In a speech to jubilant supporters, Mr Macron said: “Tonight you won, France won. Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France.”

His win makes him France’s youngest president and overturns the decades-long dominance of France’s two main political parties.

But huge challenges remain, with a third of the electorate choosing Ms Le Pen, 48, and even more abstaining or casting a blank ballot.

Mr Macron said he had heard “the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed”, vowing to spend his five years in office “fighting the forces of division that undermine France”.

He will be sworn in on Sunday, outgoing President François Hollande said.

In the meantime, the French president-elect, Emmanuel Macron, plans to visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel shortly after his inauguration, according to Sylvie Goulard, a member of the European Parliament and a close confidante of Macron.

Macron, who was voted in as president on Sunday with a large majority over Marine Le Pen of the National Front, will visit Merkel as his first foreign trip as France’s head of state, Goulard told French broadcaster CNews.

Merkel and Macron held a telephone conversation late Sunday after the result was announced, according to Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman.

Merkel told Macron that she is “looking forward to trustful cooperation … in the spirit of the traditionally close Franco-German friendship,” Seibert said.

Macron will officially take over from French President Francois Hollande next Sunday, but an exact date for the meeting between the new president and Merkel has not been set.

Hollande is expected in Berlin later on Monday for his last official bilateral meeting with Merkel before he leaves office.

Additional report from BBC