French Election Results: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen Win First Round
Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen will face each other in the second round of the French presidential election.
Emmanuel Macron, a former banker, is seen as a political outsider, having never run an election campaign before.
After topping April vote, Macron is now favorite to win the run-off on May 7.
It is the first time in 60 years that neither of France’s main left-wing or right-wing parties has had a candidate in the second round.
With 97% of votes counted, Emmanuel Macron stands on 23.9% with Marine Le Pen on 21.4%.
Their nearest challengers, center-right François Fillon and hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, fell behind, with just over 19% each.
In a victory speech to supporters, Emmanuel Macron borrowed language favored by his rival to describe himself as the patriotic choice for France.
“I hope that in a fortnight I will become your president. I want to become the president of all the people of France – the president of the patriots in the face of the threat from the nationalists,” he said.
Marine Le Pen also made an “appeal to all patriots”, saying a vote for her was the key to the “survival of France”.
“Wherever they come from, whatever their origin, whatever they voted for in the first round, I invite them all to join us and to abandon ancient quarrels and to concentrate on what is essential for our country,” she said.
Marine Le Pen’s campaign for the Front National party centers on wanting to slash immigration, clamp down on free-trade, and overturn France’s relationship with Europe.
Emmanuel Macron was current President Francois Hollande’s economy minister but quit to create his own party, En Marche, which pushes a liberal, pro-EU agenda.
The 39-year-old could now become the youngest president France has ever had.
Various political rivals are now expected to unite in a bid to keep the Front National from power.
Benoit Hamon, the candidate of President Hollande’s Socialist Party who failed to make an impact in the first round, urged those who voted for him to support Emmanuel Macron in the next stage.
Francois Fillon has done the same.
As the results came in, Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation in front of an EU flag, giving hope to European leaders who are keen to strengthen the union after Brexit.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffan Seibert, tweeted: “It’s good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with his course for a strong EU and social market economy. All the best for the next two weeks.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also congratulated Emmanuel Macron, as did EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.