Emmanuel Macron becomes France's youngest president, after the 39-year-old former investment banker and economy minister defeated anti-immigration nationalist Marine Le Pen in Sunday's presidential runoff.
Macron's precocious achievement erases a record held since 1848 by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte — Napoleon’s nephew. He won the French presidency at age 40.
Macron has never held elected office.
France's 25th president is a business-friendly centrist who emerged from relative obscurity only a year ago, when he launched an independent political movement called En Marche! that promised to break with decades of French political tradition and rule neither from the left nor right.
He quit incumbent President François Hollande's Socialist government to run for office as an independent after Hollande decided not to seek a second term.
Macron's victory represents a forceful repudiation of a European backlash against Muslim immigration and unity across the continent, both threatened by Le Pen, who favored letting France leave the 28-nation European Union.
He is a charismatic and confident speaker who is married to a former high school teacher who is 24 years older than he is.
"The task ahead will be difficult but I will always tell you the truth. I will protect you against threats," Macron said in a victory speech to supporters outside the Louvre museum in Paris. "I want to unite our people and our country. I will serve you with humility and force in the name of liberté, égalité, fraternité."
Macron has promised to invest in public health and infrastructure, cut corporate tax rates and modernize workplace rules in a country that cherishes its time off. The "Macron Law" is a bill he introduced as economy minister — an appointed position — that allowed more stores to open on Sundays.
During his time working for Hollande, Macron attempted to shake off negative perceptions of France as a place to do business.
"In France, we have always (been) afraid and upset by the positive destruction of past jobs," Macron told USA TODAY in 2015 ahead of a trip to the United States to promote his country as a destination for technology startups. "Really, creation and innovation are part of the French DNA."
"The surge of support for Emmanuel Macron shows that liberal, pro-EU centrists may yet have a future in European politics. This would be good for the EU," said Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, a think tank.
In a last-minute endorsement, former U.S. president Barack Obama publicly announced he favors Macron, saying in a video that he was "not planning to get involved in many elections now that I don’t have to run for office but the French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about."
Obama said he supported Macron because he appealed to "people’s hopes and not their fears."
In his speech to supporters Sunday, Macron promised to unify the country "with love."
But Macron remains untested on security in a country that has seen a series of terrorist attacks in recent years. And he may struggle to implement his ideas unless his party wins many seats in the June parliamentary elections.
"With a new party, he doesn't have a party machine, he doesn't have any party funding yet, and he has a mountain to climb in selecting 577 candidates to challenge sitting parliamentarians in the National Assembly," said Francoise Boucek, a French-born political expert at Queen Mary University of London.
Macron is also not technically France's youngest-ever ruler. King Louis XIV was just 4 years old when he started to rule France in 1643.
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