The hard work begins for France's President-elect Emmanuel Macron

French president-elect Emmanuel Macron delivering a speech in front of the Pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
French president-elect Emmanuel Macron delivering a speech in front of the Pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris.PHOTO: AFP

Cheers and congratulations greeted Mr Emmanuel Macron, France's pro-Europe President-elect, who beat back a surging populist-nationalist tide when he defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Mr Macron, 39, won 66.1 per cent of the votes in Sunday's fraught electoral battle against Ms Le Pen's 33.9 per cent. But in a telling sign of how disillusioned voters were, one in three abstained or cast a blank ballot.

In his speeches after his win, Mr Macron promised the people that he would address their concerns and heal the divisions in French society.

"I will do everything in the next five years so that they have no more reason to vote for extremes," he said.

Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong joined world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United States President Donald Trump, in congratulating Mr Macron.

Dr Merkel praised the pro- business former banker for leading "a courageous, pro-European campaign" and said she would work together with him to promote European stability.

The conservative Le Figaro ran the headline "La victorie en marchant", or "Marching to victory", a pun on Mr Macron's En Marche! movement.

Mr Macron will be sworn in as France's 25th President later this week, after which the hard slog begins. Besides appointing a prime minister and forming a Cabinet, the new President will have to prepare himself for another battle - next month's parliamentary elections.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'The hard work begins for Macron'. Print Edition | Subscribe