Ex-PM Valls swiftly defects to President Macron's party

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Mireille Robert, the head of a primary school in a village of 1,000 people in the Aude region of southwestern France, will be up against a local Socialist Party heavyweight.

The man who will formally become France's youngest president on Sunday has never held elected office.

On Sunday, as the polls predicted, Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election in a landslide, winning 66 percent of the vote. Merkel's closest rival, the Social Democrat Martin Schulz, served as president of the European Parliament until past year, and he is likely to be far more flexible than Merkel on demands from across the bloc to finally ease the German-backed policy of austerity that some blame for the region's economic stagnation.

As part of his effort to convince voters that both he and his movement marked a break with the status quo, Macron previously promised that half of its candidates will be new to elected politics. Beyond the fact that Marine Le Pen attracted by far the largest support for the Front National in any election since its founding in 1972, there is ample evidence that the country is less than overwhelmed by Macron.

She said she would seek to rename her National Front party, a measure of the extent to which her defeat rattled supporters who just weeks ago harboured hopes of capturing the Elysee Palace. "I feel like we are in danger". Her family is well-known in the area for its sparkling wine, which she expects will help her pick up support. "She drove us to the best result we've ever had, it's not a failure for her", he said on Europe1 radio. "It's going to be a great experience".

Moreover, despite Macron's can-do attitude, the enthusiasm for the former investment banker has its limits.

His party chief, Richard Ferrand, said on Monday that Macron's "En Marche" movement would change its name to "En Marche la République" or "Republic on the Move", so as to structure itself more like a traditional party.

The Socialist Party, whose candidate made a miserable showing in the election, is splintering as moderates and radicals squabble over the breakthrough by Macron, who worked for two years as economy minister in a Socialist government.

Macron wins French presidency but hurdles remain in campaign to governEmmanuel Macron steps into his new role as France's President-elect. "And so we have an vast responsibility vis-a-vis the French people, who trust us", said Nicolas Bay, the party's secretary-general.

But, he added, the party won't put up a candidate to oppose Valls in his district of Evry, south of Paris. And it is likely to complicate Britain's exit negotiations, providing a boost to the representatives of the 27 nations who will sit down later this year with Prime Minister Theresa May to hash out terms.

"Every support to the president is welcome", said Jean-Paul Delevoye, the president of the commission in charge of assessing candidates. The full list of candidates must be submitted by May 19.

That would force Macron to share power with them in what is known as a "cohabitation" in France. One might say that in love and, recently, in politics, Macron has been extraordinarily lucky. "I had to learn everything", he said.