The Latest: Macron gives brief speech after French victory

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on France’s presidential runoff Sunday between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

France’s president-elect Emmanuel Macron acknowledged divisions in society he says drove people to “vote to the extreme” and says he will work for all of France.

Macron, whose far-right opponent Marine Le Pen had called for leaving the European Union and returning France to the franc currency, says that he will defend both France and Europe as president.

The 39-year-old former banker, who served as finance minister under the unpopular President Francois Hollande, briefly acknowledged his onetime mentor.

But not once cracking a smile in the short speech, Macron says that he needed to look forward for the sake all of France.

It was less a victory speech than one of acknowledgement of the task ahead for Macron, who was projected to win 65 percent of votes cast for a candidate, compared with 35 percent for Le Pen.


9:05 p.m.

The head of the European Union’s executive has congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his election as French president and says that his pro-European message will continue to be that of founding nation France.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says that it made him “happy that the ideas that you defended of a strong and progressive Europe that protects all its citizens will be those that France will cherish under your presidency.”

Juncker had already shown his clear support for Macron after the first round in the elections and insisted that a win Marine Le Pen would have been bad for the EU and France alike.


8:50 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff has congratulated Emmanuel Macron, tweeting in French “vive la France, Vive L’Europe!” or “Long live France, long live Europe!”

Peter Altmaier says the result is “a strong signal for our common values.”

Merkel’s chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, also has tweeted in French “felicitations,” or congratulations. He says it’s “a victory for a strong and united Europe.”

Before the results came in, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, urged support for Macron in his efforts to create jobs and undermine support for the National Front party’s nationalist approach under far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Gabriel said that a Macron victory means that “we have only won time. We must do everything to see that Macron succeeds.”


8:40 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has offered her warm wishes to France’s new president-elect, saying she welcomes a chance to work with Emmanuel Macron.

May’s Downing Street office says that she “warmly congratulates President-elect Macron on his election success.”

In comments released immediately after exit polls showed Macron’s victory, May said that France is one of Britain’s closest allies and “we look forward to working with the new president on a wide range of shared priorities.”

France will be a key player in upcoming talks on Britain’s departure from the European Union.


8:35 p.m.

Thousands of supporters of French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron have let out a big cheer when national television called the presidential election in his favor based on poll projections.

Macron’s backers are singing “we have won, we have won” and are waving French flags in front of the stage in the courtyard outside the Louvre museum where he is planning to celebrate his victory.

Many expressed their relief that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen suffered a clear defeat.

Sandra Ledoux, a 32-year-old Macron supporter, says that she feels “very happy because Macron is young, innovative and he has a project to make Europe better instead of destroying it like Le Pen wanted.”


8:30 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says that he has called centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron to congratulate him on his election victory.

Hollande says it shows that the overwhelming majority of voters rallied behind the European Union and openness to the world.

It was Hollande who first brought Macron into the world of politics, naming the untested ex-banker as economy minister.

But Macron left the position to found his own political movement last year, and has distanced himself from his former mentor.

With nearly 20 percent of the votes counted, Macron had 60 percent of the vote to 40 percent for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, according to the Interior Ministry. The early results are primarily from provincial towns that lean more conservative than the cities, whose votes are counted later.


8:15 p.m.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen says she has called centrist Emmanuel Macron to congratulate him and says the vote confirms her National Front party and its allies as the leader of France’s opposition.

Minutes after the first results were released, Le Pen said she would call for a new political force as legislative elections loom in June.

Le Pen received 35 percent of the votes cast for a candidate, according to polling agency projections, compared with 65 percent for Macron.

She hinted that her party may rename itself from the National Front, which has been dogged by allegations of racism and anti-Semitism since it was founded by her father.


8:10 p.m.

France’s prime minister says that centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential election.

Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement minutes after the last polls closed that the vote “testifies to the lucidity of the voters who rejected the deadly project of the extreme right.” He said the vote shows an embrace of the European Union.

French polling agencies have projected that Macron has defeated Marine Le Pen 65 percent to 35 percent, with a record number of blank and spoiled ballots.


8 p.m.

Polling agencies have projected that centrist Emmanuel Macron will be France’s next president, putting a 39-year-old political novice at the helm of one of the world’s biggest economies and slowing a global populist wave.

The agencies projected that Macron defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen 65 percent to 35 percent on Sunday.

If confirmed, Le Pen’s showing would nonetheless be stronger than her National Front party has seen in its 45-year history.

The projections are based on vote counts in selected constituencies, then extrapolated nationwide.

Macron would be the youngest French president ever.

But Le Pen’s projected showing, unusually low turnout and the record number of blank ballots are an indication of the headwinds facing Macron, a former economy minister who started his own political movement only a year ago.


6:40 p.m.

Supporters of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron are entering the courtyard outside the Louvre museum in Paris where he plans to celebrate election night.

Late Sunday afternoon, French police emptied the place of tourists. Police dogs searched the site. Hundreds of Macron supporters were waiting quietly outside barriers to pass security checks, while Macron’s volunteer staffers were handing them French tricolor flags.

Earlier in the day, the courtyard was briefly evacuated after a suspicious bag was discovered. The famous museum itself was not evacuated or closed.

Macron, a centrist, is running against far-right Marine Le Pen in the presidential runoff. If elected as France’s next president, he plans to speak on the stage with the museum’s large glass pyramid in the background.


6 p.m.

The Paris prosecutors’ office says it has launched an investigation following the hacking attack targeting presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.

France’s election campaign commission said Saturday that “a significant amount of data” — and some fake information — was leaked on social networks following the hacking attack on Macron.

The leaked documents appeared largely mundane, and the perpetrators remain unknown. The commission urged French media and citizens not to relay the documents.

Earlier this week, Paris prosecutors launched a separate investigation into whether fake news was being used to influence voting in Sunday’s presidential runoff.

Macron’s campaign filed suit against an unknown source “X” after his far-right rival Marine Le Pen suggested on television that the former banker could have an offshore account. Macron denies having any such account.


5:10 p.m.

Voter turnout in France’s presidential runoff is above 65 percent in late afternoon, a sharp drop of more than 6 percent compared to the last presidential vote.

The Interior Ministry announced Sunday the turnout had reached 65.3 percent, compared to 71.96 percent in the second round of presidential voting in 2012.

Going into Sunday’s runoff, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron had a large polling lead over far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

The last polling stations in France close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) and partial results are expected shortly afterward.


3:50 p.m.

A brief election-day security scare at the Louvre Museum in Paris has barely ruffled tourists and locals.

Russian tourist Ksenia Simonova told The Associated Press “there is no more of a security problem in Paris than elsewhere. I come from Moscow and the risk is the same. There are a lot of police officers here. I am not afraid.”

Frenchman Eric Kadio came to the park near the Louvre in hopes of seeing presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, who’s expected to speak to supporters from the Louvre courtyard after election results come in later Sunday.

Kadio says “France has an efficient security operation. I am not afraid. Bomb scares are frequent and each time they get things under control.”

Police evacuated the Louvre courtyard Sunday because of a suspicious bag but later reopened it.

Macron, a centrist, is facing far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s presidential runoff.


3:30 p.m.

If he defeats Marine Le Pen in France’s runoff election, 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron will become the country’s youngest president of all time, erasing Louis Napoleon Bonaparte’s record.

After the 1848 French Revolution and the proclamation of France’s Second Republic, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte — Napoleon’s nephew — won the first presidential election at the age of 40. He then staged a coup and ruled as emperor under the name Napoleon III.

Macron has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of French politics. The former banker served as the country’s economy minister under outgoing President Francois Hollande, but has never held elected office. He launched an independent political movement, called En Marche, only a year ago.

However, Macron would not beat all records for precociousness, if he succeeds Hollande as president. France’s King Louis XIV was just 4 years old when he started his rule back in 1643.


2:35 p.m.

The courtyard outside the Louvre museum in Paris has reopened after a brief security scare prompted an evacuation of the site where French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron plans to celebrate election night.

Explosives experts have left the site after a suspicious bag prompted the evacuation on Sunday of a few hundred people, primarily journalists preparing for Macron event. The museum itself was not evacuated or closed, and visitors continued entering and leaving.

The Louvre already was being heavily guarded after an extremist attacker targeted soldiers near the museum during the presidential campaign. Paris police said the evacuation was a “precautionary measure.”

Some 50,000 security forces are guarding voting stations and other sites around France for Sunday’s runoff between Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.


1:50 p.m.

Emmanuel Macron’s campaign press office says it was a suspicious bag that prompted the evacuation of the courtyard outside the Louvre museum where the centrist French presidential candidate has planned to celebrate election night.

Macron’s team said a press room had been set up at the downtown Paris location and 300 journalists who were on site have been evacuated as a precaution.

The Louvre already was being heavily guarded after an extremist attacker targeted soldiers near the museum during the presidential campaign.

The Paris police prefecture Tweeted a reassuring message: “#Louvre These are simple verification measures carried out as precautionary measure.”

The runoff election in which Macron is competing against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is being conducted under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against extremist attacks.


1:20 p.m.

Emmanuel Macron’s campaign press office says the courtyard outside the Louvre museum where the centrist French presidential candidate has planned to celebrate election night has been evacuated because of a security alert.

Campaign spokeswoman Pauline Calmes told The Associated Press that the Esplanade du Louvre, in downtown Paris, was evacuated on Sunday as a precaution. She did not specify the nature of the threat, but says police ordered the evacuation.

Macron picked the dignified internal courtyard of the renowned palace-turned-museum as the location for his celebration party.

The Louvre already was being heavily guarded after an extremist attacker targeted soldiers near the museum during the presidential campaign.


12:55 p.m.

Lines of French citizens stretched down the block at a school in central London as dozens cast their ballots in the final round of the country’s presidential election.

Thousands of French citizens who live and work in the United Kingdom are voting in 11 cities in Britain, making their choice between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen.

London has been described as France’s “sixth-biggest city,” and French voters in the British capital had two polling stations to choose from. One was the private Lycee Francais Charles de Gaulle school.

Sylvie Bermann, the French ambassador to the U.K., was among the voters casting their ballots on Sunday morning.


12:10 p.m.

France’s Interior Ministry says the voter turnout in the country’s presidential runoff election so far is running slightly lower than it was in 2012.

The ministry said as of midday Sunday that 28.23 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots, compared with the 30.66 percent half-day tally during the last presidential runoff five years ago.

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron was considered the front-runner going into the runoff.

But commentators think a low voter turnout would benefit far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, whose supporters are seen as more committed and therefore more likely to show up to vote.

The last polling stations close at 8 p.m. (1800GMT.)


11:20 a.m.

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has cast her ballot in Henin-Beaumont, a small northern town controlled by her National Front party.

Le Pen arrived at the polling station with Henin-Beaumont Mayor Steeve Briois, who took over as the National Front’s leader during the presidential election campaign.

She was able to vote without any incident after feminist activists were briefly detained a couple of hours earlier Sunday for hanging a big anti-Le Pen banner from a church.

Polls suggest centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is favored to beat Le Pen in Sunday’s runoff election.

While Le Pen has worked hard to rid her nationalistic party of its xenophobic image, she has campaigned on an anti-immigration, anti-EU platform.

The election is being watched as a bellwether for populism’s global appeal.


11:00 a.m.

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, the front-runner in France’s presidential election, has voted in the coastal town of Le Tourquet in northern France alongside his wife, Brigitte Macron.

The former Socialist economy minister and one-time banker was all smiles and petted a black dog as he stepped out of his vacation home in the seaside resort.

For security reasons, Macron was driven to his nearby polling station at Le Touquet City Hall and shook hands with a large crowd of supporters before he and his wife entered the building.

Macron had a large polling lead over far-right leader Marine Le Pen going into Sunday’s presidential runoff election.


10:25 a.m.

Outgoing French president Francois Hollande has cast his vote in the runoff election to replace him.

Hollande voted Sunday morning in his political fiefdom of Tulle in southwestern France.

Hollande, the most unpopular French leader in the country’s modern history, decided not to stand for re-election last year.

The Socialist president has called on voters to reject far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and to back centrist Emmanuel Macron, his former protégé.

The Socialist candidate, Benoit Hamon, was eliminated in the election’s first round after receiving some 6 percent of the vote.


10:20 a.m.

Police and soldiers are working to secure symbolic Paris venues where France’s next president will celebrate victory after Sunday’s runoff election between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Macron has opted for the dignified Esplanade du Louvre, the courtyard of the renowned museum in central Paris. The Louvre is already heavily guarded after an extremist attacker targeted soldiers near the museum during the presidential campaign.

If Le Pen wins, she plans to celebrate at the Chalet du Lac (sha-LAY doo lahk) in the Bois de Vincennes (bu-AH de vin-SEN) , a vast park on Paris’ eastern edge. She is notably staying away from the area around the Paris Opera, associated with her father’s past xenophobic reign over her National Front party.

Celebration sites have a huge symbolic power, and both candidates are trying to break with the past and the traditional left-right divide. It’s no wonder Macron didn’t choose the Bastille or Republique squares, two highly popular places for the left, or the Place de la Concorde, where former right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his victory.


9:10 a.m.

Feminist activists have hung a big banner from a church to protest French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the depressed northern town where she is casting her ballot.

The activists were quickly detained after the protest Sunday in Henin-Beaumont, the latest among many actions in recent days against Le Pen or against both candidates.

Polls suggest centrist Emmanuel Macron is favored to beat Le Pen in Sunday’s runoff election.

Parisian voter Yves Robert staged his own kind of protest, casting a blank ballot. Many voters like him are both worried about the racist past of Le Pen’s National Front party and worried about the 39-year-old Macron’s inexperience or his pro-business policies.

Retiree Gabrielle Lebbe says she voted because she’s “worried for my grandchildren, I’m worried for the world.”


8 a.m.

Voters across France are casting ballots in a presidential election runoff that could decide Europe’s future, choosing between independent Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen.

With Macron the pollsters’ favorite, voting stations opened across mainland France at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against extremist attacks. Polling agency projections and initial official results will be available when the final stations close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

The unusually tense and unpredictable French presidential campaign ended with a hacking attack and document leak targeting Macron on Friday night. France’s government cybersecurity agency is investigating the hack.

Either candidate would lead France into uncharted territory, since neither comes from the mainstream parties that dominate parliament and have run the country for decades.