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French election: Emmanuel Macron to face Marine Le Pen in second round

The Independent logo The Independent 11/04/2022 Holly Bancroft and Zoe Tidman

Emmanuel Macron will face Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French election, according to projections released after voting.

The president has topped voting in this first round with a comfortable lead of between 27 to 29 per cent support, ahead of Marine Le Pen who is predicted to capture 23 to 24 per cent of the vote.

Such a result would send the two in a head-to-head contest in two weeks’ time that would determine who will be the French president for the next five years.

Pollsters suggest that just a few percentage points could separate the centrist Mr Macron and far-right Ms Le Pen in the next vote.

One poll by Ifop for French TV station TF1 predicted the current president being re-elected by a razor-thin margin with 51 per cent of the vote in the second round.

Mr Macron had previously been forecast a comfortable win in his re-election bid. But Ms Le Pen, who has softened her image despite still pursuing policies targeting Muslims and foreigners, has been narrowing this lead in recent weeks.

Emmanuel Macron kisses a young child on the head as he speaks with onlookers after casting his ballot in Le Touquet (AFP) © Provided by The Independent Emmanuel Macron kisses a young child on the head as he speaks with onlookers after casting his ballot in Le Touquet (AFP)

The 24 April second round looks set to be a choice between the pro-business and centrist current president or blowing up decades of mainstream consensus in favour of Ms Le Pen.

Speaking on Sunday evening, Mr Macron said: “You can all count on me to set in motion this project of progress, openness, French and European independence that we have defended throughout this campaign.”

The president said he also wanted to convince all those who abstained or voted for extreme political stances in the first round.

“When the extreme right in all its forms represents so much of our country, we cannot feel that things are going well,” he said.

Speaking about Ms Le Pen votes, Mr Macron said: “I want to convince them in the next few days that our project answers solidly to their fears and challenges of our time.”

Meanwhile, Ms Le Pen said she would heal France‘s divisions if she was elected president in a runoff vote following Sunday’s projections.

Marine Le Pen addresses party supporters after the first results of the first round of the Presidential election in Paris (AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by The Independent Marine Le Pen addresses party supporters after the first results of the first round of the Presidential election in Paris (AFP via Getty Images)

“I intend without waiting to sew back up the tears that a torn-apart France suffers from which now power has been able to do until now,” she told supporters.


Video: Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen? France’s Presidential Election Explained (Newsweek)

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Her policies include a ban on Muslim headscarves in public places and deporting foreigners who have a period of unemployment of over a year. She has also been attempting to tap into the day-to-day grievances of average voters, who have been facing rising fuel, food and energy prices.

All other presidential candidates but one threw their support behind Mr Macron after the first projections came out as they attempted to warn their supporters off siding with the far-right candidate.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon – projected to finished third with around 20 per cent of the first round vote – told his followers on Sunday evening: “There must not be one single vote for Le Pen in second round.”

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris forecast to receive around 2 per cent of the vote, urged voters to support Mr Macron in the run-off to prevent France from falling “into hatred of all against all”.

Yannick Jadot, who ran for the Greens, called on his supports to “block the far right by giving their vote to Emmanuel Macron” in the second round.

Valérie Pécresse, the candidate for Nicolas Sarkozy’s traditional conservative party, was projected to get less than 5 percent of the vote in the biggest shock of the night.

She said she would vote for Mr Macron “in order to stop Marine Le Pen”, adding: “[Le Pen’s] historical proximity with Vladimir Putin discredits her from defending the interests of our country in these tragic times.”

Far-right pundit Eric Zemmour, who has faced fines for inciting both racial and religious hatred, was the only candidate to endorse Ms Le Pen for the next stage of the election after he was forecast to be out of the race.

He said Mr Macron “didn’t say a word about identity, security, immigration during his campaign” which was why he was calling on his voters to back the far-right challenger instead.

A Macron victory would be seen as a defeat for European populists.

However it will probably not be cheered in the Kremlin: Mr Macron has strongly backed sanctions on Russia, while Ms Le Pen has worried publicly about their impact on French living standards.

Mr Macron is the only leading presidential candidate who fully supports the Nato military alliance.

Casting her ballot in a northern French town on Sunday, Ms Le Pen said the outcome of the election could shape France for not only the five-year term of the next president but also “probably the next 50 years“.

Mr Macron voted in the seaside town of Le Touquet. He was seen speaking to members of the public after leaving the polling station, even kissing some of them on the head.

After voting closed on Sunday evening, Mr Macron said more than 36 million people had exercised their right to vote in total.

Mr Macron’s projected result from the first round was higher than his result in five years ago, but Ms Le Pen’s score was also higher.

Mr Macron told supporters that the next two weeks “will be decisive for our country and for Europe”.

“Don’t be mistaken,” he said, “nothing is decided.”

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