Published: Mon, April 24, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

The French Election: Who Wins, Who Loses

The French Election: Who Wins, Who Loses

She underperformed, gaining 21 percent of votes to Macron's almost 24 percent.

France's political mainstream, shut out of the presidency by an angry electorate, united on Monday to call on voters to back centrist Emmanuel Macron and reject Marine Le Pen's populist nationalism.

Le Pen follows in the footsteps of her father Jean-Marie, who made it through to the 2002 presidential run-off in what came as a political natural disaster for France.

Their nearest challengers, centre-right François Fillon and hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, fell behind, with just over 19% each.

Pre-election polls suggested Le Pen and Macron, an independent centrist and former economy minister, were in the lead. Socialist President Francois Hollande is the most unpopular in modern French record-keeping.

The selection of Le Pen and Macron presents voters with the starkest possible choice between two diametrically opposed visions of the EU's future and France's place in it.

With a wink at his cheering, flag-waving supporters who yelled "We will win!" in his election day headquarters in Paris, Macron promised to be a president "who protects, who transforms and builds" if elected.

Emmanuel Macron, a former minister in the current Socialist government who calls himself an outsider, formed his own movement and took nearly 24 percent of the vote on vague promises about a brighter future.

France's legislative election in June now takes on a vital importance, with huge questions about whether Le Pen and even the more moderate Macron will be able to rally sufficient lawmakers to their causes.

Ms. Le Pen had campaigned against immigration and vowed to crack down on Islamic fundamentalism.

"If you are a Japanese former holder of French sovereign debt, you probably can't just buy it all back straight away, it may be people will wait until the second round", said Richard Benson, co-head of portfolio investment with currency fund Millennium Global in London.

"She's clearly done better than in 2012", said Joel Gombin, a Front expert at the University of Picardy Jules Verne, calling it a half victory. But his supporters were already acknowledging what appeared to be inevitable and calling for a Macron vote in the second round.

Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie, made it to the second round against Jacques Chirac in 2002 and was crushed.

Marion Maréchal Le Pen, Marine Le Pen's niece and a member of the French Parliament, said that the National Front's presence in a runoff was a big deal for her party.

"The presence of the far-right in the second round is a risk for the country", Hollande said in a televised address. (Onwards!) movement: "In one year, we have changed the face of French politics". "So she is in a truly bad position to be talking about the elites and the people".

As for the ultra-liberal former prime minister François Fillon, who emerged as a victor of the right against the former president Sarkozy and the prime minister Alain Marie Juppé, he was also accused of a widening corruption scandal that concerned his wife and children, who were paid as parliamentary assistants - work that according to investigators were never carried out.

Riots broke out in Paris after the first results were announced, when left-wing demonstrators, protesting against both top placed candidates, clashed with the police.

Elaine Ganley reported from Henin-Beaumont.

A previous version of this story has been corrected to show that the Socialist candidate was Benoit Hamon, not Manuel Valls.

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