Former French PM Manuel Valls pledges allegiance to Emmanuel Macron's movement

The 39-year-old centrist's victory over far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen in Sunday's election came as a huge relief to European Union allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain's vote last year to leave the EU and Donald Trump's election as US president.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday congratulated on Macron's election victory, saying he was happy that "the French have chosen European future".

On Europe, Macron has been crystal clear and vocal: keeping France at the centre of the European Union was the dominant theme of his campaign. His election also proved to be of big interest to other countries.

There is scepticism about Macron's ability to win a majority with candidates from his En Marche movement - "neither of the left, nor right" - alone, meaning he might have to form a coalition.

Macron has said he was aiming for an absolute majority in the lower chamber in June's elections.

Catherine Fabre, a middle-aged business management lecturer at Bordeaux University, told BFM TV she was in the running and wanted to shake things up in a National Assembly which was, in her word, dominated by too many middle-aged white men.

The Socialist Party, whose candidate was ejected on a meagre first-round score of six percent, is splintering as moderates and radicals squabble over the breakthrough by Macron, who worked for two years as economy minister in a Socialist government.

Reflecting on Mr Macron's victory, Mr Valls said: "The old parties are dying, or are already dead". He took 66.1 percent of the vote compared with 33.9 percent for Le Pen.

But if another party wins a majority, the new president could be pressured to choose a prime minister from that party, a situation the French call "cohabitation".

Macron has also said he wants an engineered exit from power of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In a conversation with reporters, former Israeli ambassador to France Yehuda Lancry said Macron favored recognition of a Palestinian state only as part of the conclusion of final status agreement with Israel.

With the U.S., Macron says he wants continued intelligence-sharing and co-operation at the United Nations, and he hopes to persuade President Donald Trump not to pull Washington out of a global climate change accord.

Sylvie Goulard, a French deputy to the European Parliament, said Mr Macron would make Berlin his first official visit, with perhaps a stop to see French troops stationed overseas as well.

Leaders in Germany and Britain praised Mr Macron's victory, but viewed it through their own electoral challenges.

"German support can't replace French policies", she said.

The euro, which had risen on Sunday night to a six-month high against the dollar, edged back down 0.5 per cent to 1.0946 dollars.

  • Leroy Wright


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT