Emmanuel Macron, a youthful former investment banker, handily won France’s presidential election on Sunday, defeating the staunch nationalist Marine Le Pen after voters firmly rejected her far-right message and backed his call for centrist change, according to partial returns.
Mr. Macron, 39, who has never held elected office, will become the youngest president in the 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic after leading an improbable campaign that swept aside France’s establishment political parties.
The election was watched around the world for magnifying many of the broader tensions rippling through Western democracies, including the United States: populist anger at the political mainstream, economic insecurity among middle-class voters and rising resentment toward immigrants.
Mr. Macron’s victory offered significant relief to the European Union, which Ms. Le Pen threatened to leave. His platform to loosen labor rules, make France more competitive globally and deepen ties with the European Union was also likely to reassure a global financial market jittery at the prospect of a Le Pen vi
Her loss provided further signs that the populist wave that swept Britain out of the European Union and Donald J. Trump into the White House may have crested in Europe, for now.
“It is a great honor and a great responsibility,” Mr. Macron said, using a video link to address thousands of flag-waving supporters who gathered on the plaza of the Louvre, where he held his victory celebration. “A new page is opening.”
With 50 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Macron had 62 percent of the vote, compared with 38 percent for Ms. Le Pen, according to the official count from the Interior Ministry.
The outcome was nonetheless a watershed for Ms. Le Pen’s party, the far-right National Front, giving it new legitimacy even as the results showed that the party remains anathema to much of the French electorate for its
But although Mr. Macron won by a wide margin, the share of votes that went to Ms. Le Pen and the high abstention rate — the worst turnout since 1969 — indicated the challenges he faces in building a base of support for his program.
Ms. Le Pen conceded the election not long after polls closed in France, saying voters had chosen “continuity,” denying Mr. Macron his outsider status and linking him to the departing Socialist government, in which he served as economy minister.
The vote was a record for the National Front and, she said, a mandate for it to become a new “patriotic and Republican alliance” that would be “the primary opposition force against the new president.”
She added that the new political divide would be between “patriots and globalists” and that her party would transform into a new political force reflecting all those who voted for her.
Early returns, according to Ms. Le Pen, showed she would receive 11 million votes, which would be twice the number her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, received when he ran a losing presidential campaign against Jacques Chirac in 2002.
The estimated 38 percent of the vote Ms. Le Pen received was the highest share the French have given to her party.
The election was also the first in which the National Front candidate, rather than being a pariah who was shut out of debates and kept off the front pages of major newspapers, as happened in 2002, was treated more like a normal candidate despite the party’s anti-Semitic and racist roots.
Still, Ms. Le Pen clearly failed to convince a decisive portion of voters that her party really had changed. Many of the votes Mr. Macron received on Sunday were no doubt cast not so much in support of him, but in rejection of Ms. Le Pen.