Independent centrist Macron has defeated Marine Le Pen by 65.1% to 34.9% according to French state television estimates, as counting continues
- Results tracker – live as they come in
- Full report: decisive for Macron but far-right vote is historic high
- Opinion: To Macron the spoils, but it is only a reprieve
Macron’s choice of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy as the background music to his march to the stage was surely significant.
It has been used before: François Mitterrand, France’s Socialist president from 1981 to 1985, chose it for his first victory celebration.
But the Ode to Joy, a musical setting of Schiller’s lyrical verse of the same name, is also the anthem of the European Union – an expression, the EU says, of Schiller’s vision of “the human race becoming brothers”.
EU leaders adopted it as the bloc’s anthem in 1985 and it is played at official ceremonies involving the EU “to celebrate the values member states share” rather than to replace their own national anthems.
Macron campaigned on a strong pro-European platform and explicitly said in his victory speech that “strengthening the European Union” was one of his goals as president. The first foreign leader to speak to him was Angela Merkel.
The president elect has often said his first priority in Brexit talks would be to “defend the integrity” of the EU. In his election manifesto he described Brexit as a “crime” that will leave the UK facing “servitude”.
His choice of music tonight would seem to send a particularly strong message to Theresa May.
Macron says the task facing us is immense, and will start tomorrow. It involves reinforcing France’s economy, building new defences, ensuring the safety of all French citizens. It is a huge job and it will require more of the same audacity that has brought us this far.
This task will require the involvement and commitment of everyone, he says. It will require the courage of truth. It will require the building of a real and strong majority, a majority for change that the country needs and deserves.
We have the strength and the energy. We will not give in to fear, to division, to lies, to a love of decline or defeat. I know what I owe you, to my companions, my family, my friends. It will not be easy. The job wil be difficult.
I will tell you the truth but your fervour and your courage will carry me forward. I want the unity of our people and of our country. And finally, I will serve you with humility, with force, and in the name of our motto: Liberty, equality and fraternity.
I will serve you with love, he says. Vive la République, vive la France.
His wife Brigitte joins him on stage, on the verge of tears, with her children and grandchildren.
Macron’s victory speech
Emmanuel Macron is about to speak to the cheering crowds in front of the Louvre, to the strains of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the European anthem.
Thank you my friends, he says. Thank you for being here this evening. Thank you for having fought with such courage for so many months because this evening you have won, France has won.
What has been accomplished has no precedent or equivalent, he says. People said it was impossible. Thank you for the efforts, and the risks some people took. I take full measure of the honour.
He says he is aware he has not been given a blank cheque by those who voted for him simply to keep out the extremist parties. He says he will stand by his engagement to protect France.
He says of those who voted for Le Pen that he understands their fear and their anger and will do all he can to ensure during the next five years that they have no further reason to vote for the extremists.
This evening, he says, it is Europe and the world who are watching us.
Libération has some fun facts on France’s new president, in case you were feeling this this was all getting a bit heavy. They include:
- He’s the first French president to be called Emmanuel.
- His name is only worth nine Scrabble points, the lowest tally of any president of the Fifth Republic and way fewer than Sarkozy (34).
- He is 1.73 metres tall, six centimetres less than the French average and one centimetre less than Marine Le Pen.
- He likes Johnny and Halliday and Charles Aznavour, and once said wine was “the soul of France”.
- His dog, an Dogo Argentino, is called Figaro.
In Nevers, Oscar Lopez has found a mixture of relief and disappointment at the result.
“It’s so great,” said Catherine Fleurier, 53, a social assistant on the city council, and, like Macron, was elected without party affiliation. “Otherwise we would’ve had to become exiles from our own country. The revolution would start tomorrow.”
Others were less enthusiastic. “I wasn’t even going to vote today,” said Bourak Patrouche, 66, a local bartender. “But I had to. Just to avoid the political catastrophe that would have been the Front National.”
An Algerian immigrant who came to France in the 60s, Patrouche was incensed by Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant discourse. “France is a land of welcome,” he said. “Her project was just based on fear and racism – it was completely unrealisable.”
Still, Patrouche, who had voted for the hard left Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round, wasn’t particularly enthused by Macron. “When you come from the world of work, you can’t accept a man like that,” he said. “Mélenchon wanted to fight the bourgeoisie – Macron is the bourgeoisie.”
Joffrey Drapeau, 27, had also voted Mélenchon in the first round. “I’m very worried for the future,” he said. “I don’t think this is a victory for Macron: 35%, that’s a big score for Marine Le Pen. That’s a victory for fear.”
Though he’d voted for Macron himself, he was very disappointed with the campaign: “There was no candidate who was truly presidential,” he said. “France’s political system is far from its people: That’s why so many people vote for the FN.”
For Leila Sabri, 49, her vote for Macron had been an act of resistance. “I wanted to show Marine Le Pen that I can be Muslim and French at the same time,” she said. “My religion is a part of me. But France is my country.”
Still, Sabri was so anxious about the result, she hadn’t slept the night before, and the results hadn’t eased her worries completely. “Five years goes quickly,” she said. “If this doesn’t work out, we’ll have Marine as president, that’s for sure.”
The Guardian has a live results tracker running that shows the count by department and the percentage change between the first and second rounds, as well as the abstention figure. You can have a look at it here.
Marion Maréchal Le Pen, Marine’s niece and one of the Front National’s only two MPs, acknowledged “some disappointment” after Macron’s victory and called for a period of “reflection” on the party’s campaign strategy.
The FN’s fight must be aimed at ensuring Macron does not have his hands completely free to run the country. There needs to be as many as possible of us in the national assembly.
Some interesting numbers from Mathieu Gallard of pollsters Ipsos:
About 43% of Macron’s voters cast their ballot for him to keep out Le Pen; only 39% of voters would like the new president to have an absolute majority in the new parliament after legislative elections next month; taking into account abstentions and spoiled ballots, roughly 44% of people on the electoral roll voted for Macron – similar to De Gaulle in 1965 (45%), Mitterrand in 1981 (43%) and 1988 (44%) and Sarkozy in 2007 (43%).
The parliamentary majority figure shows how hard the new president is going to have to work to get his programme implemented.
The euro has hit a six-month high against the US dollar as financial traders react to the French election results.
The single currency rose to $1.102 in early trading, its strongest position since the US elections last November.
Investors are relieved that Emmanuel Macron’s victory removes question marks over France’s membership of the EU, and the single currency. But it’s a fairly modest rise, as Macron’s victory was largely ‘priced-in’.
The euro has also hit a one-year high against the yen – a sign of relief that Macron secured such a big win over Marine Le Pen. It’s up 0.3% against the pound too, to 84.9p.
Michiel de Bruin, head of global rates and money markets at BMO Global Asset Management, comments:
“This win sends a clear signal that anti-EU populist parties are unable to secure a power base across the political landscape in continental Europe. This started with the presidential elections in Austria in December 2016, with a win by the Pro-European Alexander Van der Bellen, followed by the Dutch elections last March where centrist pro-European parties won the elections.
Now this trend has been echoed in France with a win by Emmanuel Macron, who has been campaigning on a pro-European agenda.”
Timothy Graf, head of macro strategy at State Street Global Markets, predicts that markets can now relax about European politics. But possibly not for long.
We expect the focus to now shift to how successful Macron’s political movement, and new party, En Marche!, will poll ahead of June’s parliamentary elections, and how strong a coalition of support he can expect as the leader of what is likely to be a minority party.”
US president Donald Trump, who before the first round vote last month had said that Marine Le Pen was “the strongest” candidate, has tweeted his congratulations to Macron:
Macron delivers solemn victory speech
Emmanuel Macron has given his victory speech. It was sober, calm and short.
He spoke of a “big honour, and an immense responsibility”. He said he was speaking to all of France’s citizens, not just those who voted for him. He sent “republican greetings” to Marine Le Pen.
He said he was aware of the “anger, anxiety and doubt” that many French citizens feel and had expressed in their vote. He said he would be “implacable and entirely resolved” in defending their security.
I will defend France, its vital interests, its image.
His primary task over the coming five years, he said, was to “calm people’s fears, restore France’s confidence, and gather all its people together to face the immense challenges that face us in the future”.
The abstention rate, an estimated 25.3%, was the highest in a French presidential election since 1969, and the number of voters who cast a blank or spoiled ballot is expected to reach an absolute record of about 12%.
The figures reflect the relatively large number of French people in this election who felt unable to vote for either candidate so either did not do so, or did but registered their disapproval of the choice they were being offered.
Commentators have said this is largely a consequence of the fact that neither candidate represented an established mainstream party, and that for some voters, particularly on the left, the alternative to the far right was seen as significantly more right than left.
The outgoing French president, François Hollande, has congratulated his successor, who until less than two years ago was his economy minister. Hollande told reporters he the new president would take office on 14 May.
I have called Emmanuel Macron to congratulate him warmly on his election. I have expressed all my best wishes for the success of our country.
Macron: a new page has turned
In his first (and very brief) statement to Agence France-Presse, Emmanuel Macron said:
A new chapter in our long history has opened this evening. I would like it to be one of hope and of renewed confidence.
Angela Merkel’s spokesman said the German chancellor welcomed Emmanuel Macron’s win as “a victory for a strong united Europeand for Franco-German friendship”.
The European council president, Donald Tusk, has also tweeted his congratulations:
The French prime minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said the vote “testifies to the lucidity of the voters who rejected the deadly project of the extreme right” and showed “an embrace of the European Union”.
Le Pen says FN to be “profoundly transformed”
Marine Le Pen has just spoken to her supporters, hailing a “historic” score for her party and promising to “lead the fight” in France’s parliamentary elections next month.
She pledged a “profound transformation” of the Front National to create “a new political force”.
It is not immediately clear what she means by this, but commentators are suggesting she aims to disband the party and build a new movement, aiming to organise “a major political reorganisation around the divide between patriots and globalists”:
Our patriotic and republican alliance will be the primary force of opposition to the programme of the new president.
Florian Philippot, a senior FN figure, has suggested to French media the party, which despite Le Pen’s efforts to detoxify it still carries an image of racism and anti-semitism, will soon be renamed.
Theresa May has been quick off the mark, releasing a statement through a Downing Street spokesperson:
The prime minister warmly congratulates President-elect Macron on his election success. France is one of our closest allies and we look forward to working with the new president on a wide range of shared priorities.
At 39, Macron will become France’s youngest president and has pulled off a remarkable feat. He has never held elected office, and just over a year ago his political movement En Marche! did not even exist.
His rival, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, will certainly see this result as a disappointment. But as my colleague Angelique Chrisafis points out, she has brought her France-first, anti-EU Front National party a long way:
French state TV vote estimate: Macron 65.1%, Le Pen 34.9%
The centrist Emmanuel Macron is the next president of France, defeating his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, by a comfortable 65.1% to 34.9%, according to a usually reliable vote estimate by pollsters Ipsos/Sopra Steria for French state TV and radio and Le Monde.
Vote estimates by other polling organisations for different French media show a broadly similar result, although some are showing marginal variations. The abstention rate is estimated at 25.3%, the highest since 1969 but not unexpected for such an unusual election.
TV satellite vans are massing outside the Louvre in Paris, where what Macron’s team believe will be his victory celebrations are to be staged.
How does France’s system of vote estimates work?
In little over 30 minutes, as the last polling stations close at 8pm, French media will publish their estimates of the final result. They may vary by a percentage point or two, but are generally highly consistent.
Unlike the exit polls in many countries, in which people are asked how they voted as they leave the polling station, these estimates – in use and steadily perfected since 1965 – are based on a vote count.
Pollsters select about 200 early closing polling stations around the country – in rural areas, small towns and urban agglomerations – carefully chosen to be as representative as possible of the country as a whole.
As soon as those stations have closed at 7pm, and as their votes are being counted, a polling official records, for a sizeable sample of the ballots, the number of votes cast for each candidate.
Those numbers are then run through a sophisticated computer program that adjusts them for past results and assorted variables, and produces a national vote estimate. These are not the official result, but they are also not an exit poll.
They are also very accurate, usually to within a percentage point.
Over the course of the evening, as the interior ministry’s official count advances, it will give different numbers, but that is because the earliest final counts come from rural areas that traditionally favour the right.
Gradually, as bigger towns and cities start to declare, the official count and the pollsters’ 8pm vote estimate come into alignment.
Le Monde joins FN boycott
As many polling stations close (some, particularly in big cities, will remain open for another hour), France’s newspaper of record, Le Monde, has announced that it will also boycott the Front National’s election evening event in the Bois de Vincennes.
The Front National has chosen to exclude some French and international media from its election evening event on 7 May … Le Monde forcefully condemns this attitude, which does not allow proper coverage of a major democratic moment and shows a poor interpretation of press freedom.
In solidarity with the media concerned, we have decided we will not be present at this election evening event. This decision will not prevent us from covering the Front National to the same journalistic standards.
Back in Nevers, Oscar Lopez has been speaking to the town’s mayor and some other Macron supporters in the former Socialist stronghold.
Like Macron, Nevers’ mayor, Denis Thuriot, had been part of the Socialist party before running for office as an independent. Elected in 2014, Thuriot ended a 43-year run for the Socialists.
“I had to bring people together from the right and the left,” he said. Now, he hopes Macron can do the same: “It’s a seismic political shift, but it’s necessary. It’s the change that’s best for France.”
The En Marche! candidate had certainly convinced Aline, 42. “It’s been a difficult election,” she said. “French people are tired of politics, with the political system.”
A lifelong Socialist, she voted for the party’s Benoît Hamon in the first round, but believes Macron “embodies the values of the left. He has brought people together from all the parties that didn’t make it through to the second round”.
Jérémie, 30, also voted for Hamon in the first round. But for the run-off, he was voting more against Le Pen than anything else. “She promises nothing but destruction,” he says. “It would be a catastrophe.”
Thuriot was equally critical. “It’s fascism with a different face,” he said of the Front National. “Young people don’t know its history, they didn’t live through the war. So when they see the country’s difficulties, they see it as an alternative. That’s dangerous.”
Macron, he hoped, would bring the country together. “It’s extraordinary,” he said. “I think French people will find new connections – between right and left, between each other. That’s the true republican spirit.”
Paris prosecutors have opened an investigation into the hacking attack on Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! campaign that saw about nine gigabytes of data, including tens of thousands of emails and documents, some of them fake, dumped online on Friday night, sources have told French media.
The leaked documents seem largely unremarkable, but the national elections commission urged French media and citizens not to republish their contents under strict rules barring any form of electioneering the day before the vote and on election day.
Prosecutors have also launched a separate inquiry into whether fake news was being used to influence the voting after Le Pen suggested during the candidates’ live TV debate that former banker Macron may have an offshore account.
A list of online and mainly left-leaning media organisations and websites say they have not been accredited for the Front National’s election evening event in the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern edge of Paris.
Organisations including BuzzFeed, Politico, Rue89, Mediapart and Les Jours all said they have been refused admittance. The leftwing daily newspaper Libération has said it will boycott the event in solidarity.
If turnout projections of about 74% are correct, it would be the lowest in the second round of a French presidential election since 1969.
This is not unexpected in a contest as unique as that between the independent centrist Macron and far-right Le Pen, neither of whom have the formal backing of a mainstream political group, say analysts.
Yves-Marie Cann of pollsters Elabe told L’Express that the 1969 election, when the rate of abstention was a record 31.1%, was similarly exceptional, featuring two centre-right candidates: Georges Pompidou and Alain Poher.
The perils of polling day: in order not to disturb five baby blue tits born between the two rounds in a nest occupying a disused letterbox in the main front door of the mairie (town hall) of the village of La Lande-Chasles (population 115) near Angers, voters are being asked to use an alternative entrance to the polling station, reports BFMTV.
Guardian readers in France and abroad have been answering a request for their views on the election. Carmen Fishwick has collated the responses of some voters who are supporting Macron, but not entirely enthusiastically.
Tom, 22, Paris: I want to see Le Pen as far away as possible from the Élysée. I don’t think Macron will be positive in any way for us except to avoid Le Pen, as his policies are still very unclear. I feel very disappointed as there are no left-leaning candidates. It seems embarrassing to me now to choose between the cause or the consequences, as pro-business policies are definitely a springboard for far-right ideas for next elections.
Catherine, 56, London: It was very difficult to vote for Macron, who I believe will not be able to govern and minimise the big divisions in France. My heart wanted [the Socialist party’s] Benoît Hamon, but I had to vote for Macron in order to stop Le Pen getting too many votes.
I do not think Macron will be good for the country. My only hope is that he will try to make Europe more socially democratic. France has a high level of unemployment, which has to be tackled as a priority. But we have to stop the extreme right gaining power or France and the EU will be doomed.
Peter, 70, Paris: I’m voting Macron, although I do not support him, but could not tolerate the possibility of a Front National candidate winning. I’m not particularly confident that much will change under him, especially as it’s not at all certain he will have a majority support in the parliament.
I voted Mélenchon as he represented most closely those values that I support and was the only left candidate who displayed any genuine passion. As in many countries, there is considerable anxiety for the future, especially around employment, health services provision, youth disenchantment and immigration.
Turnout down at 5pm
The interior ministry has released afternoon turnout figures, showing the abstention rate is noticeably higher than in France’s previous three presidential elections.
Turnout at 5pm this year was 65.3%, the ministry said, down from 71.96% at the previous election in 2012, 75.1% in 2005 and 67.62% in 2002.
Pollsters estimate that the final abstention rate will be about 25% or 26%, in line with forecasts before the vote. Analysts have said a spectacularly low turnout could in principle boost Le Pen’s score.
The “ni-ni” (“neither nor”) movement – voters who say they cannot bring themselves to vote for either candidate – has been quite vocal during the second round, led by supporters of hard left veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon and conservative Catholics who backed the centre-right candidate, François Fillon.
In the Burgundy town of Nevers, 150 miles (240km) south of Paris, long a Socialist party bastion and a stronghold of the late president François Mitterrand, Oscar Lopez has found voters turning to Le Pen.
“I’m not in France anymore,” said Ivette Millerioux, 78, after casting her ballot. “I don’t know where I am.” Millerioux, whose father fought in the second world war, said she was frightened after seeing so many terror attacks in France.
“I’ve lived through two wars already,” she says, recalling the Algerian war of independence. “I never thought I’d live through a third. But now, here I am.”
Millerioux once supported the Socialists and voted for Mitterrand in 1981. But not any more. “Marine Le Pen, that’s France,” she said. She was particularly concerned by the number of African immigrants arriving in Nevers: “Multiply that by all the cities in France – it’s unthinkable.”
Another former Socialist Karine Bartier said she had voted for the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round. “Now I don’t want to vote for either of them,” said the 45-year-old. Still, when faced with the ballot box, she had chosen Front National.
“There are too many immigrants,” she said. “France is already in such a difficult position – how are we supposed to welcome more people with such misery? At least with Le Pen, we have a chance at change. Things can’t get any worse anyway.”
But for Jean-Philippe Sacquepey, 57, Le Pen represented a much greater destiny for France. “This republic can’t last,” he says. “We must return to the monarchy.” For that, there was only one candidate. “The Le Pen family is descended from Joan of Arc,” Sacquepey insisted. “I voted for Marine – the heart of Joan of Arc still beats.”
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen voted earlier this morning. The far-right politician cast her ballot in her northern stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont.
The independent centrist Macron voted in the coastal resort of Le Touquet, where he has a second home:
A big moment …
Good afternoon and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the runoff round of this tumultuous 2017 French presidential election.
Voting has been under way since 8am in France as the country’s 47 million voters choose their next president, the eighth in the Fifth Republic. The last polls close at 8pm and usually reliable estimates of the result will be known almost immediately.
The outcome matters not just because France is the world’s sixth biggest economy and a key member of the EU, Nato and the UN security council, but also because the two candidates’ world views could not not be more different.
Pollsters have predicted since the first round on 23 April that Emmanuel Macron, a centrist former banker and economy minister, will win comfortably, possibly by more than 20 percentage points, and at 39 become France’s youngest ever leader.
He is economically liberal, socially progressive, globally minded and – on the whole – optimistic. His rival, Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National, is a nation-first protectionist who wants to close France’s borders and abandon the euro and EU.
Macron wants to ease labour laws, boost education in deprived areas, extend welfare protection to the self-employed and re-energise the EU. Le Pen aims to cut immigration to 10,000 a year, punish outsourcing by multinationals, and eradicate Islamism.
The campaign has been extraordinary in many ways: for the first time, a sitting first-term president has not sought re-election, and the two mainstream centre right and centre left parties that have run France since the 1950s are not represented in the runoff.
It has been marked by the crashing out of pre-race favourites, a terror attack on the eve of the first round, and – less than 48 hours before today’s vote – a massive online data dump of documents hacked from Macron’s En Marche! movement.
An unhappy and deeply fractured France – its east and its north divided from its from west; its graduates from its school-leavers; its thriving, cosmopolitan cities from its left-behind small towns and villages – will soon know the name of its next leader.