Emmanuel Macron has comfortably won the French presidential election, projections show.
The centrist candidate has won more than 60% of the vote, according to numerous estimates, comfortably beating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who swiftly conceded defeat.
Addressing supporters in the east of Paris, she said she had already called Mr Macron to congratulate him, adding the French people had voted for “continuity”.
Mr Macron’s supporters, meanwhile, are pouring into the courtyard outside the Louvre museum in the French capital, where the 39-year-old will deliver a victory speech later.
Speaking to the French news agency AFP, Mr Macron said a new “hopeful and confident” chapter for the nation had begun.
His triumph marks a stunning rise for the banker turned politician, who only set up his En Marche! (On the move) party last year and becomes the country’s youngest ever leader.
The election has seen a shift in French politics, with the traditional centre-right and centre-left parties falling at the first round, leaving Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen to fight to the finish.
The presidential contest usually attracts a high turnout, but the projections say there will be a record number of blank and spoiled ballots.
Figures from the country’s Interior Ministry said 65.30% of voters had cast ballots by 5pm local time, a drop on the level seen at the same stage in 2012 and 2007.
A poll on Friday predicted a final turnout of 75%, down from over 80% in 2002, 2007 and 2012.
Many who plan to vote said they were choosing between the “lesser of two evils” because they didn’t find either remaining candidate acceptable after their party was ejected from the race.
The final day before voting was overshadowed by revelations that Mr Macron’s party had suffered a “massive and coordinated” hacking attack.
Mr Macron’s victory has been been welcomed in European capitals in the wake of a populist tide that has seen Britain vote for Brexit and the US elect Donald Trump.
He wants deeper EU integration, while Ms Le Pen’s policies included France leaving the bloc, quitting the euro and cracking down on immigration.
Mr Macron’s victory marks the third time in six months – following elections in Austria and the Netherlands – that European voters rejected far-right populists.
He is unlikely to have much of a honeymoon period however, given close to 60% of those who planned to vote for him said they would do so to stop Mrs Le Pen, rather than out of any enthusiasm for Mr Macron.
Source: Sky News