Paris – France on Sunday shrugged off the siren call of right-wing populism that enchanted voters in the United States and United Kingdom, rejecting anti-EU firebrand Marine Le Pen and choosing as its next president Emmanuel Macron, a centrist political neophyte who has pledged to revive both his struggling country and the flailing continent.
The result brought to a close a tumultuous and polarised campaign that defied prediction at nearly every turn, although not at the end. Pre-election polls had forecast a sizable Macron victory, and he delivered – winning some 66 percent of the vote.
In a pointed endorsement of European unity, Macron strode to the stage at his raucous victory party in the grand central courtyard of Paris's Louvre Museum on Sunday night to the strains of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" theme, the European Union's anthem.
"The task that awaits us, my fellow citizens, is immense and it starts tomorrow," Macron said as thousands of supporters cheered and waved French flags.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Emmanuel Macron
* At 39, the trim, blue-eyed and square-jawed Macron will become France's youngest leader since Napoleon when he is inaugurated on Sunday.
* Macron has done something thought unthinkable just six months ago: becoming President of France without the support of either of the two major political parties. When he resigned from Socialist President François Hollande’s government in 2016 to launch his En Marche! (On the Move!) political movement many thought he was doomed to failure. But in just 18 months the movement signed more than 200 000 signed-up members and Macron has now won the French presidential election.
* Macron is the son of doctors and was raised in the northern city of Amiens.
* Raised in a non-religious family, he was baptised a Roman Catholic at his own request at age 12.
* While in high school he fell in love with his drama teacher, Brigitte Trogneux, who was 24 years his senior, when they collaborated on an end of year play. When his parents sent him to finish his final year of school at an elite establishment in Paris, he refused to give up on Trogneux and proclaimed he would come back and marry her. Sure enough, the couple stayed together and eventually married in 2007. They now live together in Paris with her three children from her first marriage.
* Macron is a former banker who was plucked from relative obscurity by Hollande. Despite initially wanting to be a novelist, Macron graduated from the elite Sciences Po university in Paris before entering the civil service. He worked at the French treasury for four years before leaving to become a banker. In 2012 he was appointed as Hollande’s deputy chief of staff, then economy minister.
* During his tenure in government Macron became particularly unpopular among the traditional left as he enacted a series of labour laws, including one which allows companies to negotiate over the 35-hour week, which led to severe strikes across France.
* Before he announced his candidacy for president his team, inspired by the Obama campaign in the US in 2008, carried out a survey of thousands of French citizens to hear what policies they wanted from their politicians.
* Former president Barack Obama had also endorsed Macron, and the young French politician often appeared to be trying to emulate the magic of Obama's 2008 campaign with speeches that appealed to hope, change and unity – while eliding many of the details of his policies.
* Macron has almost nothing in common with Trump except one key fact: Like the New York real estate tycoon, Macron became president of his country on his first run for elective office. After Macron's victory, Trump tweeted congratulations shortly after 3pm Washington time on "his big win today as the next President of France. I look very much forward to working with him!"
The Washington Post, The Independent and Wikipedia