French polling agencies project that centrist Emmanuel Macron will become France’s next president.

French independent centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with well-wishers as he leaves the polling station after casting his ballot in the presidential runoff election 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 candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — Polling agencies have projected that centrist Emmanuel Macron will be France’s next president, putting a 39-year-old political novice at the helm of one of the world’s biggest economies and slowing a global populist wave.

The agencies projected that Macron defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen 65 percent to 35 percent on Sunday.

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

The projections are based on vote counts in selected constituencies, then extrapolated nationwide.

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.

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