Emmanuel Macron, far-right rival Marine Le Pen face runoff in French presidential election

Emmanuel Macron, far-right rival Marine Le Pen face runoff in French presidential election

Emmanuel Macron, far-right rival Marine Le Pen face runoff in French presidential election

A volunteer election observer for far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumes party attends a workshop in Marseille, southern France, on April 9.Daniel Cole / The Associated Press

Incumbent Emmanuel Macron will face right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen in a winner-takes-all runoff for the French presidency when they both face another face-off in the first round of voting in the country’s election on Sunday. Proceed to set up the clash. His sharply antagonistic approach to France.

Voting agency estimates and a partial official count of votes showed France is recounting the 2017 runoff that made Mr Macron the country’s youngest president – but this time there is no guarantee the result will be the same.

Addressing his supporters chanting “five more years”, Mr Macron warned that “nothing has been done” and said that the next two weeks of campaigning for the second round of voting on 24 April “are important for our country and Europe”. will be decisive”.

Konrad Yakabusi: French presidential election will worsen division, whether Emmanuel Macron wins or loses

Claiming that Ms Le Pen would decriminalize France with a “populist and xenophobe”, she added: “It is not us.”

“I want to reach everyone who wants to work for France,” he said. He has vowed to “implement the project of progress of French and European openness and freedom that we have advocated.”

The election result will have wide-ranging international ramifications as Europe struggles to contain the havoc wreaked by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr Macron has strongly supported EU sanctions on Russia while Ms Le Pen is concerned about their impact on French living standards. Mr Macron is also a staunch supporter of NATO and maintains close cooperation among the 27 members of the European Union.

With two-thirds of the votes counted, Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen had comfortably ousted hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who finished third of the two candidates.

Mr Macron, a 44-year-old political centrist, won by a landslide five years ago, but is set for a tough second round against his 53-year-old political nemesis. Ms Le Pen is promising a seismic turnaround for France – both domestically and internationally – if the country’s first woman is elected as president.

Mr Macron looked like a shoo-in for months, becoming the first French president to win a second term in 20 years. But national rally leader Ms Le Pen, in a boom of late, tapped into the most important issue on the minds of many French voters: rising costs of food, gas and heating due to rising inflation and the consequences of Western sanctions on Russia.

The polling agency’s projections prompted both Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen to improve on their 2017 first-round performances, highlighting how French politics has become increasingly polarised. Mr Macron was expected to take a sizable first-round lead, with nearly 28 per cent support ahead of Ms Le Pen’s estimated 23 per cent-24 per cent of the vote. About 20 percent of the support was credited to Mr. Melanchon.

Both Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen now need to reach voters who won the second round on Sunday after beating 10 presidential candidates.

Ms Le Pen in particular appeared to target Mr Mélechon’s left-wing supporters by promising “social justice” and reform for “a broken France”.

“The French people honored me by qualifying for the second round,” said Ms. Le Pen. His supporters celebrated with champagne and “we’re going to win!” His speech was interrupted with slogans of

Yet some of his defeated rivals were so concerned with the prospect of Le Pen defeating Mr Macron that he urged his supporters on Sunday to transfer their second round of votes to the incumbent. Addressing the sometimes tearful supporters, Mr Mélenchon repeatedly said: “We must not give one vote to Mrs. Le Pen.”

Describing herself as “gravely concerned”, the defeated Conservative candidate Valerie Pecres warned of “causing chaos” over Ms Le Pen’s election, saying the far-right leader has never been so close to power. Ms Pecrese said she would vote for Mr Macron in the runoff.

Pollsters suggest that only a few percentage points can differentiate familiar enemies in the second round. The runoff campaign is likely to be far more confrontational than in the first round, which was largely affected by the war in Ukraine.

After Ms Le Pen left her blue ballot envelope in the northern city of Henin-Beaumont, she said, “given the situation in the country and the world,” the election outcome could determine “not only in the next five years, but probably”. The next 50 years ”in France.

In the 27-member EU, only France has a nuclear arsenal and a United Nations Security Council veto.

To defeat Ms. Le Pen in the runoff, Mr. Macron will have to put aside his years of rebranding effort to make himself appear less extreme, a makeover that has also highlighted his love for cats. Mr Macron has accused Ms Le Pen of pushing an extremist manifesto of racist, destructive policies. Ms Le Pen wants to take back some rights for Muslims, ban them from wearing head scarves in public, and significantly reduce immigration from outside Europe.

His soft image has won the hearts of some voters, but made others even more suspicious.

A retired engineer, Yves Maillot, said he had voted for Mr Macron only to balance Ms Le Pen. He said he feared that his long-standing animosity for the European Union could see him try to get France out of the bloc, even though he had omitted it from his manifesto.

“I don’t think she has changed at all,” he said. “It’s the same thing, but with cats.”

Alain Ganley, Sylvie Corbett and Patrick Hermansen in Paris contributed

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