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French presidential election: Centrist Macron, far-right Le Pen set for final round showdown

The election assumes significance as it comes in the wake of floundering economy, rising unemployment and surge in terror attacks in the country that has claimed lives of more than 230 people.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
April 24, 2017 10:07:56 am
 French election, france election, french presidential election, presidential election-France, Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen, runoff round, centrist, far-right, European Union, France future, world news, Indian express Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron (left) and far-right populist Marine Le Pen (Source: AP Photo)

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen progressed through to the final round of the France’s presidential election after emerging as the top two contestants in the opening round contest, according to initial projections on Sunday. The runoff second round will be held on May 7. The winner will succeed outgoing president François Hollande, who chose not to seek re-election due to low approval ratings.

Macron, the former economy minister, is estimated to have secured nearly 24 per cent votes as against Le Pen’s 22 percent votes, according to estimates by the Interior Ministry after 90 per cent of votes were counted. The election is being widely seen as a vote on the future of the European Union. The outcome of the first round is also being seen as a huge defeat for the two centre-right and centre-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years.

Following the outcome of the first round, defeated main rivals urged their loyal supporters to come out in support of Macron in a bid to stop Le Pen, whose anti-immigration and anti-Europe policies, they said, could bring about serious ramifications for the country. “Extremism can only bring unhappiness and division to France,” defeated conservative candidate Francois Fillon was quoted as saying by AP. “As such, there is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right.”

While Macron presents an optimistic vision of a tolerant France, Le Pen’s views have darker undertones with her advocating “French-first” policy, closed borders, and less immigration. Another major point on which both of them are contesting is European Union. Macron promotes closer cooperation among the bloc’s 28 nations, while Le Pen wants to follow in on the footsteps of Britain by leaving the EU.

france elections, france presidential election, france election results, french election results, France, france elections live updates, france presidential polls 2017, france presidential polls live updates, France news, france election latest news, marine le pen, francois fillon, jean luc melenchon, paris election voter turnout, france news, world news, indian express Protesters against far-right National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen hold a banner reading “fascist” during a protest march from suburban Aubervilliers to Paris, Sunday, April 16, 2017. Le Pen is one of the top contenders in France first-round presidential vote on April 23. (AP Photo)

In view of the first round win and new surveys suggesting Macron’s thumping victory in the runoff, the euro surged two per cent as the centrist presidential candidate has promised to reinforce the country’s commitments to the European Union and euro. As per new surveys, Macron would secure 64 per cent to Le Pen’s 36.

The election also assumes significance as it comes in the wake of floundering economy, rising unemployment and surge in terror attacks in the country that has claimed lives of more than 230 people.

At her election day headquarters in the northern French town of Henin-Beaumont, she said, “The time has come to free the French people” and added that nothing short of “the survival of France” will be at stake in the presidential runoff.

As the news of Le Pen’s advance started coming in, protesters took to the streets and scuffled with police in Paris. In retaliation, officers fired tear gas to disperse the rowdy crowd. In the process, two people were injured and three were detained as demonstrators burned cars and dodged riot police.

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With inputs from agencies.

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First published on: 24-04-2017 at 10:07:56 am
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