Emmanuel Macron wins French Presidential election against Marine Le Pen

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Early indications showed Emmanuel Macron convincingly beat Marine Le Pen (Source: Getty)

Emmanuel Macron will be the next President of France after an emphatic victory in Sunday night's election.

The centrist candidate won 66 per cent of the vote in the second round of the Presidential election, against far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen’s 34 per cent.

The margin of victory was much higher than the 20 percentage point gap predicted ahead of the vote. 

Read more: Macron needs to win big – or he risks ending up a lame duck President

In a sober address to the nation from his election headquarters Macron said the French people had "turned a new page in our long history."

Speaking to a crowd of supporters outside the Louvre museum in central Paris he struck a more triumphant tone, saying: "You have chosen audacity."

The election has been closely watched around the world as a symbolic battle between the liberal, internationalist outlook of Macron, a former banker with Rothschild, and the protectionism and strong anti-immigrant stance of Le Pen.

Investors welcomed the victory for Macron, which definitively removed the possibility of the anti-euro and anti-EU Le Pen gaining power.

Fraser Lundie, co-head of credit at Hermes Investment Management, said: "The market will see this as another blow to the populist movement as Macron won emphatically on a pro-business, European future."

The euro jumped to above $1.102 against the US dollar as trading floors opened, the highest point for the single currency since November, when the dollar surged on the back of the election of Donald Trump as US President.

Read more: Macron rally sees markets gain $290bn

Macron’s first-round victory in April sparked a massive surge in stock markets around the world as investors breathed a sigh of relief, although economists warned the prospects for another big rally were limited.

Dean Turner, an economist at UBS Wealth Management, said: "Since markets anticipated this result, they had largely positioned for this outcome, which may cap any gains in the short term."

Macron, who entered politics as economy minister under current President Francois Hollande, quit the ruling Socialist party to found the En Marche! political movement only a year ago.

The 39-year-old will now become the youngest ever French President, with his inauguration expected before 14 May, when Hollande's term expires.

Le Pen accepted defeat and told her supporters the French people had "voted for continuity", before setting her stall ahead of the upcoming legislative elections. Members of Le Pen's team indicated she may drop the National Front name and form a new political party.

Read more: Macron's victory: seven investment questions answered

Hollande said he "warmly congratulated" Macron in a phone call. He said: "I expressed to him my best wishes of success for our country."

Congratulations rolled in from world leaders around the globe.

Prime Minister Theresa May was among the first leaders to congratulate Macron on his victory. A Downing Street spokesperson said: “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.”

Meanwhile US President Donald Trump greeted Macron's "big win", saying "I look very much forward to working with him!"

European Council president Donald Tusk said: "Congratulations to French people for choosing Liberty, Equality and Fraternity over tyranny of fake news."

Germany's foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, added his congratulations. He said: "Germany will be at the side of the new President of the Republic."

Read more: Apres Macron, le deluge: European elites’ last chance to avert disaster

Investor attention will now turn to French parliamentary elections on 11 June and 18 June, where Macron will look to convert his strong personal mandate into a majority in the legislature.

Macron is currently the only elected representative of the En Marche! party he founded. Polls suggest En Marche! could win around 250 seats, short of a majority in the 577-seat French National Assembly.

A failure to secure a majority in the French legislature would make Macron's planned reforms more difficult to pass. Macron's electoral platform includes a liberalisation of the labour market, possibly dropping the 35-hour week, as well as cuts of €10bn (£8.5bn) to public spending.

However, the large margin of Macron's victory in the Presidential vote still sends a strong positive signal about France's business community, according to Arnaud de Bresson, chief executive of Paris Europlace, a lobby group charged with attracting business to Paris.

He said the victory of a "business-minded President" would be the spur for increased efforts for France to draw business to Paris from other financial centres, including London after Brexit.

He said the election "shows that France is on the move to accelerate reform."