French President-elect Macron gears up for challenges ahead

The 39-year-old centrist's victory over far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen in Sunday's election came as a huge relief to European Union allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain's vote last year to leave the EU and Donald Trump's election as USA president. But the battle against extremism, bigotry and the politics of fear is far from over. That enabled the former investment banker, who has never been elected to public office, to successfully channel some of the anti-establishment sentiment that has been coloring other Western elections.

In the first round of the presidential election on April 23, Macron topped the vote with 24.01 percent, followed by Le Pen on 21.30 percent, in a crowded field of 11 candidates. And more experienced centrist opponents suffered self-inflicted wounds earlier in candidate-winnowing, including conservative Francois Fillon, who was felled by financial scandal.

Growing resentment at the European Union and fears over immigration saw her soar in the polls, but she lost to pro-European centrist Macron in the final duel for the French presidency.

And despite a lackluster campaign style, he was perceived as attractive and energetic.

After watching the solemn ritual of voting in Noyers, I headed up, by train, to Paris, where Macron's held a victory celebration at the Louvre on Sunday night that was Gallic in its grandiloquence. Bien joué, Macron. But not fin. (Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images)2.

First, the 39-year-old Macron's win upended the theory that globalization's discontents were destined to fuel the continuing rise of populist movements. They refrained, initially, from assigning blame for the hack, although experts concluded that its propagation began in the United States with a cluster of Twitter accounts run by members of a far-right movement whose aim is a whites-only state. So far, those European parties that have wooed globalization's "losers" have come from the far nationalist right or the extreme left.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Alexey Nikolsky / Sputnik)3.

His overwhelming victory in a country that suffers far more direct, far more regular terrorist attacks than the USA - and therefore would seem far more susceptible to Le Pen's calculated, savvy fear-mongering - is a powerful indicator that, well, voters can still see through the hate, and all is not lost.

Count Putin a big loser and Merkel a big victor from the French vote.

But reports said Macron's associates had fought back with electronic trickery of their own, mingling fake email messages along with genuine ones that were stolen.

French researchers largely supported Macron, it seems.

At upcoming summits, Macron gets to meet another "outsider" turned leader.President Trump. Le Pen called for France to leave the European Union and drop the euro currency in favor of the franc.

The score amounts to nearly double the support garnered by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2002 - the last time the National Front party made it to the first round of a presidential race.

"The release is not important to me", said Michèle Monnery, 74, after casting her vote for Macron in Laon, a small city in the north. "Make no mistake about it", said Cornell University sociology professor Mabel Berezin.

That dream had already faltered in less crucial Dutch and Austrian elections but was still alive and resting on Le Pen's shoulders.

Relief with congratulations immediately poured in from across the Continent. That's something Sophie McLoughlin, a fundraiser for En Marche, hopes will change when voters head to the polls again in June for France's parliamentary elections.

But the way forward may be bumpy.

During his campaign Macron promised to remake a political system that he says is failed and vacuous and with a plan to energise the economy, and reform the European Union.

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