Macron and Le Pen advance to French presidential runoff

Owen Stevens
April 24, 2017

Voters in France have comprehensively snubbed the country's political establishment, sending far-right populist Marine Le Pen and political novice Emmanuel Macron through to the second round of the country's presidential election, early results indicate.

An Ipsos poll of the second round of the French elections has Macron winning 62 percent against Le Pen's 38 percent.

The selection of Le Pen and Macron presented voters with the starkest possible choice between two diametrically opposed visions of the EU's future and France's place in it. Le Pen, who wants France out of the European Union, has succeeded in winning over large numbers of former leftists and centrists.

Sunday's outcome is a huge defeat for the two center-right and center-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years, and also reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain's vote last June to quit the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as USA president.

Neither candidate from the mainstream Republicans and Socialists made it through to the second round for the first time in six decades, in a stunning shakeup of national politics.

"To see the flags of France and the European Union hailing Emmanuel Macron's result shows hope and the future of our generation", tweeted Mogherini, 43, after the 39-year-old Macron's first-round victory speech to supporters was broadcast on television.

With 90 percent of votes counted, the Interior Ministry said Macron had almost 24 percent, giving him a slight cushion over Le Pen's 22 percent.

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In a defiant speech to supporters, Melenchon refused to concede defeat before the official count confirmed pollsters' projections and did not say how he would vote in the next round.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.3 percent to end the week at 2,348.69.

The result mirrored others - such as the British vote to leave the European Union and the U.S. election of Donald Trump - where voters have rejected traditional elites.

Mr Macron, who quit current president Francois Hollande's Socialists only previous year ago to launch a new party, led the way with 23.7% of the first round vote, according to an exit poll by Ipsos and Sopra Steria.

But to have a real chance of implementing the reform of France's economy and politics that he wants, he needs a victory big enough to enlist popular figures from established parties in the parliamentary election that follows in June. But conservative Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, who was embroiled in a scandal over alleged fake jobs appeared to be closing the gap, as was far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Macron, 39, is seeking to become France's youngest ever president and has campaigned on a strongly pro-EU and pro-business platform. Pollsters have pegged Macron to secure the presidency, a call that sent global stocks and risk assets higher as traditional safe havens - gold and government debt - came under pressure. Of course, this is a much smaller margin than the 82-18 margin by which Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, lost to Jacques Chirac in 2002.

She said: "Either we stick to multilateral cooperation of states, or we will go back to nationalism that will bring us nowhere because when you face climate change or terrorism, you need to cooperate with other countries". The new president will take over from Socialist Francois Hollande. He said the second round presented "an opportunity for hope" for France and Europe, in contrast with "the threat of nationalism".

Other reports by VgToday

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