PARIS/LONDON: Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected for a second term as French president on Sunday, with 58.2% of the vote, according to estimates from the Ipsos polling institute.
Turnout for the French presidential run-off stood at 63.2 percent at 5 p.m. on Sunday, down by more than two percentage points from the same time in the second round of the 2017 presidential race, the interior ministry said.
Participation was also two percentage points below what it had been at 5:00 pm in the first round of voting on April 10, when President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen advanced to the run-off.
On the basis of the official figures, polling organizations estimated that the abstention rate was on course for 28 percent which, if confirmed, would be the highest in any presidential election second-round run-off since 1969.
Analysts had warned that low turnout could swing the final result in either direction, even though opinion polls have given Macron a comfortable lead against Le Pen over the past two weeks.
The centrist Macron asked voters to trust him for a second five-year term despite a presidency that was troubled by protests, the pandemic and Russia's war on Ukraine. A Macron victory makes him the first French president in 20 years to win a second term.
The result Sunday in France, a nuclear-armed nation with one of the world’s biggest economies, could also have an impact on the war in Ukraine, as France has played a key role in diplomatic efforts and firmly backed sanctions against Russia for its invasion of its neighbor.
Live updates below. (All times BST)
21:00 - Re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron in his victory speech on Sunday said his next five-year term would be different, and promised that “nobody will be left by the wayside.”
“Because each one of us counts for more than just himself,” said Macron. “This is what make the French people such a unique force which I love so intensely and which I am so proud to be serving again.”
20:00 - Social media footage and on-the-ground reports are saying police are charging and spraying teargas at protesters in central Paris following the announcement of the result.
19:30 - Marine Le Pen said she would keep up the political fight against President Emmanuel Macron in the run-up to June parliamentary elections, as she conceded defeat to the incumbent in France's presidential election.
“The French showed this evening a desire for a strong counterweight against Emmanuel Macron, for an opposition that will continue to defend and protect them,” she told supporters after early projections indicated she had lost the election.
19:20 - European Affairs minister Clement Beaune said that the result of France's presidential election, which saw the far-right win its highest ever score, showed that "we need to continue to work."
19:15 - Cheers break out at the foot of the Eiffel Tower where supporters of President Emmanuel Macron are celebrating his re-election on Sunday, moments after first projections showed he had won the vote by a comfortable margin.
Boos and whistles broke out at the campaign party of his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen.
19:05 - PRELIMINARY RESULT - Macron wins re-election with 58% of the vote, Marine Le Pen with 42%.
18:45 - Polling stations across the country will be fully closed in 15 minutes...
16:00 - The interior ministry has released the latest voter turnout figures at 5 p.m. local time, and we're down by a couple of percent from the 2017 election at this point.
The figures confirmed a trend forecast by experts who said this year's final vote between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen would see the highest abstention level in over 50 years.
15:15 - The first official exit polls should start coming in by 8 p.m. Paris time, once the final stations are closed. But until then, the French media is banned from quoting candidates or discussing polls, to ensure no voter influence occurs.
14:45 - There are almost 49 million registered voters in France, but analysts warn that turnout today could well be lower than in fiurs warned that turnout could be lower than in the first round, with one in four people abstaining from voting.
14:15 - The first figures from Overseas indicate a massive victory for Le Pen in Guadeloupe (69.6% against 30.4% for Macron), in Martinique (60.9% against 39.1 %) and in Guyana (60.7% against 39.3%).
14:00 - The polling stations opened across France at 8 a.m. local time and will close at 7 p.m., but some city-center stations will be allowed to remain open for another hour.
Turnout by midday local time was just over 26%, which was lower than at the same point in 2017's election.
* With AP, AFP, Reuters