French Presidential Election: What You Need To Know
French Presidential Election: What You Need To Know
24 Abril, 2017, 05:46
Pollsters projected that pro-Europe centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen advanced Sunday to France's presidential runoff on May 7 - igniting wild cheering and singing at their respective headquarters.
An updated estimation by research firm Elabe for local broadcaster BFMTV on Sunday indicates that former Minister of Economy Macron leads with 24 per cent of votes, and Le Pen 21.8 per cent, Xinhua news agency reported.
"In one year, we have changed the face of French politics", Macron said.
The outcome capped an extraordinary few months for a deeply divided France, which saw a campaign full of twists and turns and widespread anger at traditional parties.
It also would represent a seismic shift in the French political landscape, with neither of the candidates from the mainstream left Socialists or the right-wing Republicans party - which have governed post-war France - making the runoff. The Socialist Party's Benoit Hamon, who belongs to the same battered party as President François Hollande, will likely finish with around 6 percent of the vote.
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His wife, Brigitte, joined him on stage before his speech _ the only couple among the leading candidates to do so Sunday night. She still insists, however, that France is at risk of cultural dilution from immigration, multiculturalism and globalization.
The selection of Le Pen and Macron would present voters with the starkest possible choice between two diametrically opposed visions of the European Union's future and France's place in it.
Macron's good looks, profound understanding of the economy, social media skills and unassuming style have helped his campaign despite the fact that no independent candidate has been elected president in France in decades.
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.
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.
Leading figures from both camps immediately called for voters to vote for the poetry and theatre lover Macron. Hamon quickly conceded defeat but declared "the left is not dead" and urged supporters to back Macron. He questioned the election projections and did not endorse Macron, saying instead that the French must vote their "consciences".
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The vote took place under heavy security after the killing on Thursday of a policeman on Paris's Champs Elysees avenue claimed by the Islamic State group. The terror attack was the latest in a bloody series have cost more than 230 lives since 2015. The country's 66,546 polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) and most closed at 7:00 pm, although they remained open an hour longer in Paris and other big cities.
Voting was brisk on a bright spring day, defying forecasts of a low turnout after a campaign dominated by scandals.
Le Pen has said radical Islam is a "threat on French culture" and has called on Jews to make certain "sacrifices" in order to fight jihadism. "We succeeded in imposing the idea of patriotism", said Florian Philippot, one of Le Pen's top aides.
Far-right expert Nonna Mayer at Sciences Po university told AFP that nothing was impossible, "but it seems unlikely that she will carry the second round".
Fillon denies any wrongdoing, but his place as frontrunner has been usurped by a man many consider to be the future of France.
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