Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to be elected to a second term on Sunday, defeating far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. At closing time for the polls, projections showed the incumbent's winning margin to be about 58% to 42%, Axios reports. Polls during the campaign generally had shown Macron leading the race, but by no more than 15 percentage points. Turnout was lower Sunday than it had been for decades, estimated at about 72%, though it wasn't much below 2017's turnout; Macron beat Le Pen in that election, 66% to 34%.
In conceding the runoff election, Le Pen said the vote showed "winds of change afoot" in the country. She said she'll continue to oppose Macron, saying his policies would "destroy France." Her party would battle in legislative elections in June, Le Pen told supporters. The campaign highlighted divisions, per the Wall Street Journal, especially concerning inflation, immigration, and the war in Ukraine; Macron has played a leading role in opposing Russia's invasion. Leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who didn't miss a spot in the runoff by much, called Macron's victory "very good news for the unity of our people" but still promised to fight him in the parliamentary elections.
Macron's supporters gathered near the Eiffel Tower in Paris cheered as the result was announced, per the AP. Many voters on the left, especially, voted for Macron without enthusiasm, mostly to keep Le Pen out of office. Macron on Sunday thanked those voters, as well as his supporters, per the AP. "It was the least worst choice," said one who supported a communist candidate in Stephanie David, a transport logistics worker who backed a communist candidate in the April 10 round. Another said he voted for the incumbent "to avoid a government that finds itself with fascists, racists." The results are scheduled to become official Sunday night. (Read more France stories.)