French election: Macron and Le Pen go to second round

Marine le Pen and Emmanuel Macron

Centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron has gone through to the second round of the French election, where he will face far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a run-off on 7 May.

Mr Macron, a former banker, is seen as a political newcomer – and ran without the backing of an established party.

It is the first time in six decades that neither of France’s main left-wing or right-wing parties has had a candidate in the second round.

Mr Macron won 23.8% of votes in the first round, while Ms Le Pen took 21.5%.

Their nearest challengers, centre-right François Fillon and hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, fell behind, with just over 19% each.

The French vote was being closely watched as a bellwether for populist sentiment following the election of Donald Trump as US President and Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

Throughout the campaign, Macron insisted that France was “contrarian” – ready to elect a pro-globalisation liberal at a time when rightwing nationalists are making gains across the world.

There were already signs that Macron, who is married to his former school teacher 25 years older than him, would also enjoy support from his defeated rivals in the Republicans and Socialist parties.

Hamon, forecast to win a humiliating six percent and finish in fifth place, said the left had suffered a “historic drubbing” but said voters should back Macron to keep out Le Pen who he said was “an enemy of the republic”.

Fillon followed suit, saying he would vote for Macron.

 

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