Macron, Le Pen Seen Advancing to French Presidential Runoff

The markets improved dramatically at the news as Marine Le Pen is keen to get France out of the EU and return to the franc

The markets improved dramatically at the news as Marine Le Pen is keen to get France out of the EU and return to the franc

French presidential election candidate for the En Marche! movement Emmanuel Macron poses for the photograph, on 22 April, 2017, in Le Touquet, northern France, on the eve of the first round of presidential election. With the AfD already plummeting in the polls, the persistent infighting may yet rob it the chance of joining the Bundestag after the September election.

Where Macron has called colonization a "crime against humanity", Le Pen has said that "colonization brought a lot" to the colonized, like roads and schools.

Le Pen, a right-wing populist whose campaign includes a hardline stance on immigration and promises to partially pull back from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance, could spawn France's own referendum on leaving the European Union should she win in next month's runoff.

"It's a political natural disaster in this country and in Europe", veteran journalist Christine Ockrent told CNN. But conservative Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, appeared to be closing the gap, as was far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

"It's definitely risky, but I have faith in the result even if an extreme candidate qualifies for the second round", said Beatrice Schopflin, who was queuing to vote in Paris. "France's political map is tonight redrawn", said CNN's Melissa Bell, who was at the scene. "Macron's is a remarkable achievement, because he represents optimism".

Macron's supporters, gathered at a Paris conference center burst into singing the national anthem, the Marseillaise, a few seconds after results came through. More important for the question of political stability, the results showed that Europe's mainstream parties remain more exposed than ever.

Political campaigning was banned from midnight Friday hours ahead of polls opening in France's far-flung overseas territories such as Guadeloupe, French Polynesia and French Guiana, which all voted a day early Saturday. France's Interior Ministry said voter turnout by late afternoon was 69.4 percent - slightly lower than in 2012, when turnout was high.

Macron and Le Pen will face off in a second round of voting on May 7.

Protesters have waved red flags and sung "No Marine and No Macron!" in anger at the results of Sunday's first-round presidential election.

Almost 47 million voters will decide, under tight security, whether to back a pro-EU centrist newcomer, a scandal-ridden veteran conservative who wants to slash public spending, a far-left eurosceptic admirer of Fidel Castro or appoint France's first woman president who would shut borders and ditch the euro. The candidate for the governing Socialists, Benoit Hamon, was a distant fifth going into the final weekend.

And while it's hard to see supporters of Melenchon or the Socialist Hamon supporting Le Pen some of Fillon's centre right supporters may switch to Le Pen rather than Macron. "I think they're all decent candidates". He denies any wrongdoing.

At a rally in Paris he told supporters: "In your name, I will be. the voice of hope for our country and for Europe". "Abstention is not in my genes, especially when an extremist party is close to power". We stand with you against Le Pen's divisive politics. "Its economic and social program will lead our country to failure".

But he attracted support from left and right with promises to boost the economy and improve security.

The leader of the far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen has become well known for speaking out against France's current position within the EU. She has also vowed to take France out of the EU.

Macron and Fillon are committed to European unity and would reform labor rules.

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