France's Macron defeats far-right Le Pen

STORY: French President Emmanuel Macron won reelection on Sunday, defeating his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen by a comfortable margin, heading off what would have been a political earthquake.

In a speech below the Eiffel tower, Macron acknowledged those on the political left who voted for him reluctantly, only in order to prevent the far-right candidate from winning.

"Many of our compatriots voted for me not out of support for my ideas but to block those of the extreme right. I want to thank them and I know that I have a duty towards them in the years to come."

Macron supporters cheered and waved French and EU flags as the results rolled in.

On the outskirts of Paris, dejected Le Pen supporters booed the election outcome.

Farther north, Le Pen fans expressed unbridled anger, as they view Marcon as an elitist with contempt for ordinary people.

Le Pen conceded the race not long after the polls closed, but vowed to keep up the fight, with the June parliamentary elections in mind.

"The French are showing tonight a wish for a strong counter-power against Emmanuel Macron... [FLASH] The match is not completely over, since in a few weeks, the legislative elections will take place."

Opposition parties on the left and right will immediately start a major push to try to vote in a parliament and government opposed to Macron, whose margin of victory looked to be tighter than when he first beat Le Pen five years ago, underlining how many French remain unimpressed with him and his domestic record.

In what may be a sign of things to come, police fired tear gas at demonstrators Sunday night. Protests over Macron's pro-business reforms plagued his first five years in office.

Despite the social discontent, the 44-year-old became the first French president in 20 years to win a second term.

EU allies were pleased, hailing the centrist candidate's victory as a reprieve, following 2020's Brexit, the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the rise of a new generation of nationalist leaders.

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