+++ Emmanuel Macron elected youngest-ever president of France - as it happened +++ | News | DW | 07.05.2017
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+++ Emmanuel Macron elected youngest-ever president of France - as it happened +++

According to early projections, Macron has defeated nationalist rival Marine Le Pen in France's presidential election. The former economy minister is set to be the youngest head of state in the history of the Republic.

- Emmanuel Macron and his independent En Marche! (On the Move!) party have secured a victory in France's presidential election according to initial results, beating the anti-immigrant National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen. Macron ran on a pro-European Union platform and has promised to speed up asylum procedures to deal with the country's refugee crisis.

-  Polls opened in France at 8 a.m. local time (6:00 UTC) for the second and final round of voting in presidential elections. French voters are choosing between the independent centrist former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen after the field was narrowed down from 11 major candidates in the first vote on April 24.

-  The last stretch of the dramatic campaign was marked by an insult-laden television debate and a 14.5 gigabyte leaked data dump from Macron's campaign that his En Marche! party has said included many fake documents to "create confusion."

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC).

18:30 "A new page of our long history is turned..." to "one of refound hope and trust," projected French President-elect Emmanuel Macron has said. Le Pen's success in the first round of voting had raised fears that right-wing populism and anti-immigrant nationalist rhetoric would emerge victorious in France as it had during the Brexit campaign and the election of US President Donald Trump.

At the same time, Le Pen conceded defeat in front of a group of supporters and said that the FN would "deeply renew itself" to become the driving opposition force in French politics.

18:27 France's current President Francois Hollande has called Emmanuel Macron to praise his ex-economy minister on his victory. In a statement, Hollande said Macron's success showed that the French people had chosen to stick behind the "values of the republic."

18:15 A source inside En Marche! told the press that he and Marine Le Pen had spoken by phone, and that the conversation was "brief and cordial." It reportedly came about 10 minutes before the polls closed, as it became clear that Macron was set to win by a wide margin.

18:13 A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel has extended congratulations on behalf of the German leader. British Prime Minister Theresa May also "warmly congratulates," the centrist, her office said.

18:05 Initial results have Emmanuel Macron emphatically winning the French presidency. Projections as polling stations closed gave Macron 65 percent of the vote to Le Pen's 34.5.

17:25 Some 15 news outlets, including Buzzfeed and "Le Monde" newspaper, have said they were turned away from Le Pen's National Front (FN) party gathering outside of Paris on Sunday evening. The party cited a lack of space as the reason for barring representatives of outlets such as Britain's Sky News, the US magazine "The Atlantic," and Italian public broadcaster Rai.

An editor for France's Liberation newspaper called the snub "un-democratic" and said its reporters would not attend the event out of solidarity.

17:01 According to French news agency AFP, French President Francois Hollande will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday. Hollande announced early in the campaign that he would not seek re-election, and his Socialist Party's candidate Benoit Hamon failed to make it to this second round of voting.

16:30 Speaking in Hamburg, Chancellor Merkel said that the EU needs to "move ahead faster and more decisively in areas where pan-European action brings real added value."

Highlighting the importance of French-German relations, she added that "(we) hope that the election goes as we would like that the cooperation of Germany and France in this context is of decisive significance."

15:26 A source close to Paris prosecutors told AFP that an official investigation has been launched into the hack of the Macron campaign that resulted in a huge data leak last Friday. The information was later confirmed by officials.

15:18 The Interior Ministry in Paris has said that voter turnout is about 65% at 5 p.m. local time, lower than the past two second-round presidential elections. If turnout remains this low, it will be the first time since 1969 that turnout for the second round of voting would be lower than the first.

14:43 Early exit polls from Belgian broadcaster RTBF put Macron ahead with more than 60 percent of the vote. The report did not elaborate, however, on which pollster provided the figures as publishing exit surveys or partial projections is illegal in France before polls close. Voting will end at 7 p.m. local time (17:00 UTC) in most of France, and an hour later in bigger cities like Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux.

13:35 The park outside the Louvre museum has been reopened after security forces completed their sweep of the area. Some 50,000 soldiers and police officers have been deployed near polling stations and other sites around France for Sunday's election.

12:50 The press office of En Marche! clarifies that 300 journalists were removed from the Louvre courtyard after a suspicious bag was found nearby. The museum has been heavily guarded since an extremist attempted a knife attack on patrolling soldiers in February.

12:20 The Macron campaign told the press that the park outside the Louvre museum in Paris had to be evacuated due to security concerns. The centrist candidate had planned to hold a celebration there in the event of his victory.

10:10 France's Interior Ministry announces that that by midday, turnout was lower than it had been since 2002. Just 28.2 percent of voters had made it to the polls by noon, compared with 30.7 at the same time in 2012 and 34.1 in 2007.

Frankreich Präsidentschaftswahl Marine Le Pen (picture-alliance/dpa/O. Corsan)

The anti-immigrant Marine Le Pen would be France's first female president

9:30 Topless protesters from the feminist movement Femen were detained in Marine Le Pen's stronghold of Henin-Beaumont as the national front leader went to cast her vote. They jumped out of an SUV wearing masks of US President Donald Trump and Le Pen and unfurled an anti-National Front banner in front of the town church.

es/tj (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

 

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