Centrist Macron beats right-winger Le Pen in French presidential election

Centrist Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential election, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said. These elections were the first to be held under the state of emergency that was introduced after terrorist attacks in 2015.

French voters choose between Le Pen & Macron in presidential run-off LIVE UPDATES

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has confirmed that French voters have chosen Macron as president.

A new page of our long history is opening this evening, I want hope and confidence to be found again this evening,” Macron told AFP, after the first projections were announced.

Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential elections, receiving 66.1 percent of the vote, while his rival, Marine Le Pen, got 33.9 percent, the Interior Ministry said, citing final results.

Marine Le Pen has congratulated Macron on his victory. “The French voted for continuity and I called Monsieur Macron Macron to congratulate him on his election,” she said. 

Speaking after the polling stations closed on Sunday, Macron said that his victory was “a great honor and a great responsibility.” He promised to “protect the most fragile” and to fight against “all forms of inequality and discrimination.”

“I will defend France,” he said, adding that he will be “at the forefront” of the fight against terrorism.

Macron’s victory shows that the majority of French people wanted to unite around the “values of the republic," outgoing French President François Hollande said. “His big victory confirms that a very large majority of our fellow citizens wanted to gather around the values of the Republic and mark their attachment to the European Union,” Hollande said in a statement.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has congratulated Macron on his victory.

The centrist candidate got at least 65 percent of the vote, early projections showed.

BFMTV cited an Elabe poll, which projected that Macron won 65.9 percent of the votes cast, while his rival Marine Le Pen secured 34.1 percent of the vote.

The inauguration of Macron as president could take place on May 14, Le Figaro reported, citing sources.

At least 4 million voters have left their ballots blank, a number that has doubled in comparison to 2013, Le Figaro reported, adding that at least 12 million French citizens did not vote at all.

The youngest president in French history

Thirty-nine-year-old Macron, from the northeastern city of Amiens, will become the youngest president in French history. He served as Economy Minister under Socialist President Francois Hollande's government in 2014-16, then stepped down and set up the En Marche! movement to fight the presidential election.

Macron’s victory is a “victory for the financial oligarchy, the French will realize [it soon],” Florian Philippot, Vice President of the National Front party, told TF1 TV channel.

Macron and right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen were neck and neck in the first round of elections that took place on April 23, when Macron got 24.01 percent and his rival Le Pen took 21.30 percent of the vote.

Macron’s first round rivals, conservative Francois Fillon and leftist Benoit Hamon, said they would vote for Macron in the second round of the election.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, in a statement following the first results of the elections, said on Sunday that Macron is planning a war on the French social welfare system.

 "The program of the new monarch-style president is known already. It is a war against the French social welfare system, and ecological irresponsibility,” he said.

On Friday evening, hours before the election’s day of silence began, Macron’s team confirmed that it had suffered a massive hacking attack after a trove of internal documents was released online. The electoral commission urged the media to be cautious about publishing the details.

READ MORE: ‘Propaganda machine’: Twitter blasts Liberation newspaper’s pro-Macron cover on eve of vote

On Saturday, Macron found himself at the center of a scandal after the leftist newspaper Liberation called on voters to cast their ballots for Emmanuel Macron on the cover of its pre-election day edition. The move was criticized on social media, with some users blasting the promotion as a sign of “no more democracy.”

Current President Francois Hollande got 51.6 percent of the votes back in 2012, while Nicolas Sarcozy in 2007 secured 53.1 percent. Jacques Chirac got the highest percent of the votes among presidents of the Fifth Republic – 82.2 percent (2002).