- Associated Press
Sunday, May 7, 2017

PARIS (AP) - Screams of joy, sighs of relief and rousing dance music.

A wave of human emotion wafted across the palatial esplanade of the Louvre Museum on Sunday night as thousands celebrated the victory of president-elect Emmanuel Macron - and the defeat of his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen.

Across town at a wooded chalet, Le Pen’s supporters remained combative, pledging to turn her party’s strongest-ever electoral score into a major opposition force.

“Relief, relief, relief! There was a fear that the French would choose nationalism. It’s been a difficult moment - the country is so divided. The atmosphere of the election - while not exactly civil war - was of a deep clash of ideas,” 20-year-old student Alice Whitehead said as she partied at the Louvre.

Crowds cheered with joy and frantically waved tricolor flags as the results were announced on large plasma screens in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum, a former royal palace on the shores of the Seine River in central Paris.

“Macron President!” they chanted. Supporters were of all ages, but including a notable number of young people and children.

As dusk set in, strobe lights accompanied a loud DJ set that saw thumping hits by Rihanna and Sia - and a version of the Marseillaise - echo around the historic courtyard. Supporters danced, jumped and sang.

Sarra Zaoui, 8, enthusiastically waved a flag and grinned as she was hoisted up on top of a traffic light in front of the museum’s famed Pyramid.

Another group of girls who spoke in Arabic to their mother shouted in French “Vive la République, Vive la France!”

Emmanuel Oulai, a 35-year-old insurance broker from Paris, was subdued but hopeful.

“This election has changed French politics a lot,” he said. “This result shows that there are many people who believe in renewal.”

“Also, he has a wonderful name!” Oulai joked.

Parisians lined streets outside his campaign headquarters as Macron left in a motorcade to join the party at the Louvre. There, the European anthem, “Ode to Joy” played as Macron strode out to address his supporters.

Macron fans cited his commitment to a united Europe, his open-minded views - and the fact that he is not Le Pen, whose National Front party has tapped widespread frustration with globalization and immigration but is also tainted by a racist past.

Le Pen’s election night event took place at a chalet in the Bois de Vincennes, a vast park on the eastern edge of Paris. After her defiant concession speech, Le Pen’s supporters put on a happy face, pointing to her 36 percent support as a win for a party long seen as a pariah.

When the results appeared on a big TV screen in her election-night venue, people in the room chanted “Marine, the voice of the people!” and sang the French national anthem. Later, Le Pen herself did a mean jitterbug to the song “YMCA” with party dignitary Jean-Lin Lacapelle.

“Legislative elections are coming soon, so we are going to continue this beautiful fight that she started,” said supporter Fabienne Chauvet.

Didier Roxel, a National Front supporter, will run in France’s June parliamentary election from the Paris suburb of Saint-Germain-En-Laye.

“Now we enter combat,” he said. “The true opposition is us.”

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