Le Pen and Macron through to French presidential run-off

Over 60,000 polling stations closed at 18:00 GMT on Sunday for 47 million eligible voters who chose between 11 candidates in the most unpredictable election in generations under tight security.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A combination picture shows portraits of candidates for the second round in the 2017 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen (L), French National Front (FN) political party leader, and Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche!

Updated Apr 24, 2017

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen led the first round of France's presidential election, qualifying for a second-round run-off in two weeks, final voting figures from the Interior Ministry showed on Monday.

The figures put Macron at 23.75 percent of votes and Le Penon at 21.53 percent, followed by conservative Francois Fillon at 19.91 percent and far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon with 19.64 percent, the ministry said in a statement.

Macron and Le Pen will now face each other in a May 7 run-off for the French presidency after coming first and second in Sunday's first round of voting.

In a race that was too close to call up to the last minute, Macron, a pro-European Union ex-banker and economy minister who founded his own party only a year ago, was projected to get 24 percent by the pollster Harris and 23.7 percent by Elabe.

TRT World's Francis Collings has the latest.

Le Pen's winning of a spot in the run-off will be seen as a victory for the rising wave of populism reflected by the votes for Donald Trump and Brexit.

Unlike Le Pen, Macron is committed to European unity and would reform labour rules.

TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood has latest from Le Pen's camp. 

Fillon had consistently been polling third in surveys leading up to the election, but pollsters were hard to trust with much of France politically divided yet unsure about their vote as they headed to polling stations.

France's 10 percent unemployment, its lacklustre economy and security issues topped concerns for the voters.

TRT World's Myriam Francois has more on Fillon's failure to make it to the run-off and what it means for France's conservatives.

Socialists and conservatives back Macron

Defeated Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon said on Sunday that France's left-wing had suffered a "historic drubbing" in the first round of France's presidential election.

While vowing that the "left is not dead," Hamon, who came in fifth according to projections, urged his supporters to vote for first-placed Macron in the May 7 run-off in order to block the election of Le Pen.

Meanwhile, Fillon's campaign coordinator Bruno Retailleau described his elimination in the first round as a "huge disappointment."

"The campaign was unable to address the difficulties of the French people and the record of (President) Francois Hollande," Retailleau said.

Alluding to the fake jobs scandal that dogged his campaign, Fillon, once the front runner in the race, said he had faced obstacles that were "too numerous, too cruel."

Declaring he would vote for Macron, Fillon said there was "no other option but to vote against the far-right."

TRT World's Anelise Borges has latest on Macron's chances of becoming the next French president.

Polling station evacuated

Daesh claimed a shooting in Paris on Thursday and two "radicalised" Frenchmen were arrested with weapons and propaganda material a few days prior.

A polling station in the town of Besançon in eastern France was evacuated on Sunday after a stolen vehicle was abandoned with the engine running while voting was taking place, the French interior ministry said.

The suspicious car was flagged as stolen and had fake number plates, a ministry official said. He added a decision was made to evacuate the polling station, while bomb disposal experts were called to examine the vehicle.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies