Live updates | European leaders quick to congratulate Macron

By The Associated Press

BRUSSELS — Several European leaders and politicians have swiftly congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron for his reelection, as his far-right rival Marine Le Pen conceded defeat in Sunday’s presidential election.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted in French, “together we will make France and Europe advance.”

The Dutch prime minister also tweeted in French his hope to “continue our extensive and constructive cooperation in EU and NATO.”

In Germany, politicians around the political spectrum offered support, including from the pro-business Free Democrats, the environmentalist Greens and conservative Christian Social Union.

Many in Europe had worried Le Pen would undermine European unity and its post-war order.

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MORE STORIES:

— Macron vs Le Pen: France votes in tense presidential runoff

— France’s presidential rivals: Key moments, private lives

— EXPLAINER: How France’s old-school voting system works

— Follow all AP stories on France’s 2022 presidential election at https://apnews.com/hub/france-election-2022

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

PARIS — French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has conceded defeat in the presidential runoff, handing victory to incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

She said her unprecedented score in a presidential election represents “a shining victory in itself.”

“The ideas we represent are reaching summits,” she said.

French polling agencies are projecting that centrist Macron has won the runoff against Le Pen that took place Sunday.

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PARIS — French polling agencies are projecting that centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron will win France’s presidential runoff Sunday, beating far right rival Marine Le Pen in a tight race that was clouded by the Ukraine war and saw a surge in support for extremist ideas.

If the projections are borne out by official results, Macron would be the first French president in a generation to win a second term, since Jacques Chirac in 2002. But he would face a divided nation and a battle to keep his parliamentary majority in legislative elections in June.

Five years ago, Macron won a sweeping victory over Le Pen to become the youngest French president. The margin is expected to be way smaller this time: Polling agencies Opinionway, Harris and Ifop-Fiducial projected that Macron would win between 57% and 58.5% of the vote, with Le Pen getting between 41.5% and 43%.

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PARIS — Voter turnout is lower than usual in France’s presidential runoff Sunday, apparently reflecting voter frustration with both candidates, centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen.

Turnout at 5 pm Paris time (1500 GMT) stood at 63%, the Interior Ministry said. That was below the 65% at the same time in the last presidential runoff in 2017, when Macron overwhelmingly beat Le Pen, and the 72% in when Socialist Francois Hollande won the presidency in 2012.

Polls before Sunday’s election gave Macron a solid lead over Le Pen, but to keep it he needs the support of many left-wing voters who shunned both him and Le Pen in the first-round election on April 10. Many of those voters may choose to stay home this time instead.

Polling agency projections and early official results are expected after final voting stations close in France at 8 pm (1800 GMT).

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LE TOUQUET, France — The two candidates for France’s presidential runoff have cast their ballots — and basked in adoring crowds outside their polling stations.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen went first, cheerily greeting election workers in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont, in France’s struggling former industrial heartland. She emerged from the ballot booth beaming to drop it in a transparent box. Outside, she took selfies with supporters.

Then came incumbent Emmanuel Macron, who shook dozens of hands — and was handed a small child to hold up — on his journey from his family home in the resort town of Le Touquet on the English Channel to his voting station.

Inside, he greeted yet more people, posed for photographs with his wife Brigitte, and cast his ballot with a wink for the cameras. The voting booths were shielded by curtains in the red-white-and-blue of the French flag.

About 48.8 million voters are eligible to take part in the runoff, which is being watched around Europe. Early results are expected Sunday night.

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PARIS — France began voting in a presidential runoff election Sunday with repercussions for Europe’s future.

Centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron is the front-runner, but he’s fighting a tough challenge from far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

The centrist Macron is asking voters to trust him for a second five-year term despite a presidency troubled by protests, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. A Macron victory in this vote would make him the first French president in 20 years to win a second term.

The result of voting in France, a nuclear-armed nation with one of the world’s biggest economies, could also impact the conflict in Ukraine, as France has played a key role in diplomatic efforts and support for sanctions against Russia.

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