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Emmanuel Macron defeats Marine Le Pen in French presidential election

French independent centrist presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte are greeted by supporters after casting his vote in Le Touquet, France, Sunday, May 7, 2017. Voters across France are choosing a new president in an unusually tense and important election that could decide Europe's future, making a stark choice between pro-business progressive Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

France’s prime minister says that centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential election.

Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement minutes after the last polls closed that the vote “testifies to the lucidity of the voters who rejected the deadly project of the extreme right.” He said the vote shows an embrace of the European Union.

French polling agencies have projected that Macron has defeated Marine Le Pen 65 percent to 35 percent, with a record number of blank and spoiled ballots. The projections are based on vote counts in selected constituencies, then extrapolated nationwide.

If confirmed, Le Pen’s showing would nonetheless be stronger than her National Front party has seen in its 45-year history.

Le Pen says she has called Macron to congratulate him and says the vote confirms her National Front party and its allies as the leader of France’s opposition.

Minutes after the first results were released, Le Pen said she would call for a new political force as legislative elections loom in June.

She hinted that her party may rename itself from the National Front, which has been dogged by allegations of racism and anti-Semitism since it was founded by her father.

Macron would be the youngest French president ever.

But Le Pen’s projected showing, unusually low turnout and the record number of blank ballots are an indication of the headwinds facing Macron, a former economy minister who started his own political movement only a year.