French presidential election heads to round two

Le Pen, Macron will face off in second round

Marine Le Pen

PARIS – Marine Le Pen of the conservative National Front Party and progressive former French economic minster Emmanuel Macron will face each other in the second round of France’s presidential election. The two lead with 46 million votes tallied so far, according to figures from France’s Interior Ministry late Sunday. With nearly all of France’s 47 million strong electorate accounted for, the figures put Macron on 23.82 percent of votes and Le Pen on 21.58 percent, conservative Francois Fillon at 19.96 percent, and far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon with 19.49 percent. With pollsters estimate a turnout approaching 80 percent, Le Pen fared better in the rural areas and small towns while Macron fared better in France’s urban centers. Le Pen said she offers “the great alternative” to French voters.Macron called on all “patriots” to rally behind him against the threat of what he called “nationalists,” after qualifying on Sunday for the French election’s runoff against Le Pen.”I want to be the president of patriots against the threat of nationalists,” the 39-year old told a cheering crowd of supporters.Macron, whose “En Marche!” party is only one year old and has never taken part in any parliamentary election, also said he would as soon as Monday work on building a parliament majority to be able to govern after legislative elections in June.”In one year, we have changed the face of French politics,” Macron said.Reacting to the results of the first round of the election, Senior French conservatives and Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon said on Sunday that they would back centrist Emmanuel Macron in a May 7 runoff against far-right leader Marine Le Pen. After initial projections indicated Macron and Le Pen had qualified for the second round, Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon told supporters his party had suffered an “historic blow” from its voter base and called on voters to back Macron and reject Le Pen in “the strongest possible way.”On the other side of the traditional political spectrum, former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a member of defeated candidate Francois Fillon’s The Republicans party, said: “Without hesitation, as far as I’m concerned we’ve got to rally behind Emmanuel Macron.”