Emmanuel Macron Defeats Marine Le Pen to Become France's Youngest President

Exit polls project Macron winning by 30 percent margin ■ Centrist's victory brings huge relief to European allies ■ Le Pen still scores record result for far-right party

French president-elect Emmanuel Macron waves to the crowd as he delivers a speech at the Pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 7, 2017, after the second round of the French presidential election.

After a tumultuous election campaign filled with scandal and surprises, French citizens overwhelmingly voted on Sunday for the pro-European Union centrist Emmanuel Macron to be France's next president for the next five years.

With the vast bulk of votes counted, Macron had around 65.5 percent to Le Pen's 34.5 - a gap wider than the 20 or so percentage points that pre-election surveys had suggested.

Macron, a 39-year-old former-economy minister who wants to bridge the left-right divide, will be France's youngest leader since Napoleon Bonaparte.

A record performance for the National Front underlined the scale of the divisions that he must try to heal.

Le Pen's share of the vote was set to be almost twice that won by her father Jean-Marie, the last National Front candidate to qualify for a presidential runoff, who was trounced by Jacques Chirac in 2002.

Macron's immediate challenge will be to secure a majority in next month's parliamentary election for En Marche! his political movement that is barely a year old, in order to implement his program.