Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected as France’s president for another five years following a resounding victory over competitor Marine Le Pen, who received the extreme right’s largest vote percentage yet.
He won by a larger margin than projected, 58.55 percent to 41.45 percent.
At the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the centrist leader told jubilant supporters that now that the election was over, he would be a “president for all.”
He is the first sitting president to be re-elected in 20 years.
Despite her defeat, Ms Le Pen, 53, claimed that her large vote share was nevertheless a win.
She assured her fans that the ideas espoused by her National Rally had reached new heights. Far-right opponent Eric Zemmour, on the other hand, pointed out that she, too, had failed just like her father who preceded her: “It’s the eighth time the Le Pen name has been hit by defeat.”
Marine Le Pen took over the party founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011 in a bid to make it electable. She won more than 13 million votes on Sunday, on a platform of tax cuts to tackle the high cost of living, a ban on wearing the Muslim headscarf in public and a referendum on immigration controls.
“An answer must be found to the anger and disagreements that led many of our compatriots to vote for the extreme right,” Mr Macron said in his victory speech. “It will be my responsibility and that of those around me.”
More than one in three voters did not vote for either candidate. Turnout was just under 72%, the lowest in a presidential run-off since 1969, and more than three million people cast spoilt or blank votes.
Much of France was on holiday on the day of the vote, but the low turnout also reflected the apathy of voters who complained neither candidate represented them. Voters who said they were casting blank ballots told the BBC they wanted to punish the sitting president.
Anti-Macron demonstrators rallied in a number of cities, including Paris, Rennes, Toulouse and Nantes, refusing to accept the result.
‘Ocean of absentions’
In his speech Mr Macron, 44, said his government would have to “answer their choice to refuse to choose”.
Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who was narrowly beaten by Ms Le Pen in the first round of voting two weeks before, was scathing about both candidates.
While it was good news France had refused to place its trust in Marine Le Pen, he said Mr Macron had been elected in a worse way than any other president. “He floats in an ocean of abstentions, and blank and spoiled ballots.”