French President -elect Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron has vowed to fight “the forces of division that undermine France” after easily winning the run-off election for the French presidency.

The centrist candidate (39) defeated the far right’s Marine Le Pen, winning 66.1 percent of the vote to her 33.9 percent.

Acknowledging his victory, Mr Macron told supporters he wanted to ensure Le Pen voters “no longer have a reason to vote for an extremist position”.

There has been a palpable sense of relief among European leaders.

Mr Macron was elected on a pro-European Union platform, while Ms Le Pen by contrast threatened to pull out of the single currency and hold an in/out referendum on France’s membership of the EU.

In a speech to jubilant supporters, Mr Macron said: “Tonight you won, France won. Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France.”

His win makes him France’s youngest president and overturns the decades-long dominance of France’s two main political parties.

But huge challenges remain, with a third of the electorate choosing Ms Le Pen and even more abstaining or casting a blank ballot.

Mr Macron said he had heard “the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed”, vowing to spend his five years in office “fighting the forces of division that undermine France”.

Most of those running the EU were breathing a sigh of relief, given Ms Le Pen’s policies and last year’s Brexit vote.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted “happy that the French chose a European future” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Mr Macron’s win was a “victory for a strong united Europe”.

-BBC