After polls closed across France at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET), polling companies Opinionway, Harris and Ifop worked with media organizations to publish projected results based on early voting patterns. This method has accurately predicted French elections in the past.
The final result will be announced by the country’s interior ministry on Monday.
Opinion polls put Macron about 10 points ahead in the campaign’s final days — too close for comfort for a leader who consistently urged voters not to be complacent in the face of Le Pen’s far-right threat.
The campaign was beset by apathy, with many voters dissatisfied with either candidate. With just three hours before the last voting stations closed, turnout was 63 percent — down two points compared with the same time five years ago.
But ultimately Macron, 44, looks to have won a clear victory that surpassed those polls, surging in the final stages to earn five more years at the helm of the European power.
He will become the first president since Jacques Chirac two decades ago to secure a second term in office, but must now confront domestic dissatisfaction as well as the effects of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing war on the continent.
Both candidates were pinning their hopes on attracting some of the 7.7 million voters who initially backed the firebrand socialist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came third in the first round of the election on April 10.
Le Pen’s performance in this election shows how much France has changed politically, with mainstream center-left and center-right parties obliterated in the first round.
In 2002, Chirac won a landslide 82 percent victory over Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father, in a swell of opposition to his hardline anti-immigration stance.
In recent years she has sought to soften her image and distance her party from her family’s often toxic political legacy and association with Holocaust denial.
Associated Press contributed.