Macron, Le Pen Likely To Face Each Other In Presidential Runoff

Emmanuel Macron who heads political movement En Marche! with his wife Brigitte Trogneux

Emmanuel Macron who heads political movement En Marche! with his wife Brigitte Trogneux

The counting continues, but it looks clear that centrist Emmanuel Macron will face off against far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in a May 7 French presidential election runoff that could decide the fate of the European Union, MarketWatch reports. "There is no other choice but to vote against the far right, I will vote for Emmanuel Macron", he said.

Her ambitions have led observers to predict that a Le Pen victory could be a fatal blow for the European Union, already weakened by Britain's vote to leave.

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 US president.

Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche!, or Onwards!, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, gestures to supporters after the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Paris, France, April 23, 2017.

Macron is a liberal, former investment banker and an avowed internationalist who worked as economy minister in France's Socialist government.

It was also a success for Le Pen, who has spent years attempting to rid the Front National of the toxic legacy of her father.

With 97% of votes counted, Le pen has received 21.42 percent of votes, while her rival Macron is leading in the first election tour with 23.86 percent.

Meanwhile Le Pen's anti-euro stance, which is rejected by many of her own supporters, as well as a majority of voters, offers Macron a promising line of attack.

Aiming to ride a wave of populism that carried Donald Trump to the White House and led Britain to vote for Brexit, Le Pen wants France to abandon the euro and also intends to call a referendum on withdrawing from the EU.

Polls show Macron defeating Le Pen in the second round - and not by a small margin.

Speaking after it was announced she'd made it through to the second round, the firebrand said: "Come out of these outdated quarrels and resentments".

Conservative Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, has 19.95 percent, while Jean-Luc Melenchon of the far-left has 19.50 percent in the first-round vote.

"Either we continue to disintegrate without any borders, without any controls, unfair worldwide competition, mass immigration and the free circulation of terrorists, or you choose France with borders", she added.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, Trump noted that the attack that killed a French policeman in Paris last week would have a big impact on the election, and delivered a veiled endorsement of Le Pen.

Socialist Benoit Hamon, projected to win a humiliating 6.4 percent, said the left had suffered a "historic drubbing" but urged voters to keep out Le Pen who he said was "an enemy of the republic". The Social Democrat said he was "sure" Macron would be elected president.

"Globalization puts our civilization at risk", Le Pen said in her Sunday victory speech.

Damien, a local civil servant, grimly blamed tactical voting for the crushing defeat - "the flawed presidential election system which allows voters to carry out power plays". "He will win because he is able to unite people from the right and the left against the threat of the National Front and he proposes real solutions for France's economy".

Behind the hall, ironically named the François Mitterrand Centre after the late Socialist president, lies a giant slag heap, a reminder of the now disappeared mines whose traditionally left-wing workers were won over by Ms Le Pen's anti-globalisation crusade.

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