While votes are still being tabulated in Sunday’s French presidential election, all polling appears to show that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are heading to a second round of elections.
Macron received 23.8 percent of the votes and Le Pen 21.6 percent, according to French research firm IFOP. Another global research company, IPSOS, says the two candidates received 23.7 and 21.7 percent of the votes, respectively.
However, according to a preliminary vote count, Le Pen leads in the first round, with Macron second, Bloomberg reported, citing the French Interior Ministry.
Citing partial figures from the ministry, Reuters also reported that based on some 20 million votes counted, Le Pen leads the vote. The results do not include votes from France’s largest cities, it added.
Francois Fillon of The Republicans and Jean-Luc Melenchon of La France Insoumise are also among the top four.
Left-wing socialist Melenchon has called for “restraint” over any preliminary results. Saying that he does not yet accept defeat, the candidate refused to validate any but the official results of the voting, which, he said, will be “respected.”
After the official results are announced, the top two candidates will then proceed to a run-off vote on May 7.
The figures pretty much confirm previous estimates of who the top four contenders are in the race, out of a total of 11 candidates.
Benoit Hamon of the Socialist Party, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan of Debout la France, Nathalie Arthaud of Lutte Ouvriere, Philippe Poutou of the New Anticapitalist Party, Jacques Cheminade of Solidarity and Progress, Jean Lassalle of Resistons!, and Francois Asselineau of the Popular Republican Union also initially vied for moving into Elysee Palace.
Speaking to the AFP news agency, Macron said together with his supporters he is “turning a page in French political history.”
France’s Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has called on all democrats to vote for Macron in the second round.
Speaking at his campaign HQ following the voting, Les Republicains’ Francois Fillon called for a vote for Macron in the second round. Saying that “extremism can bring nothing but pain,” in an apparent reference to Macron’s main rival, the National Front’s Le Pen, Fillon said he would not abstain while “an extremist” party is approaching power.
A former Rothschild investment banker who served as economics minister in President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government, Emmanuel Macron has been among the most favored to win the presidency.
Described as an independent centrist, the millionaire quit Hollande’s party to form his own En Marche! (Onwards!) movement last year.
The 39-year-old received an apparent call of support from former US President Barack Obama earlier this month, though Obama’s spokesperson said he is “not making any formal endorsement” in the race.
Marcon is pro-European union, rallying for France to stay within the Schengen zone. He aims to cut corporate taxes, reduce public spending by €60 billion (US$64.3 billion), and cut 120,000 public sector jobs.
He has spoken of reforming labor laws and getting tougher on unemployment benefit recipients who have repeatedly turned down job offers.
Reacting to the first unofficial results of the Sunday voting, French lawmaker Marion Marechal Le Pen, who is the niece of Marine Le Pen, called the election “a historic victory for patriots.”
Speaking at her HQ, Marine Le Pen herself called the result of the Sunday voting “historic.” Saying that she stands for France that “protects its values and its borders,” Le Pen told her supporters it’s time “for a great change” in the second round, and called on all “patriots” to come out in the interests of the French nation.
The leader of the far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen has become well known for speaking out against France’s current position within the EU. Her views have prompted many to fear the country will follow in Britain’s footsteps with a so-called “Frexit.”
Le Pen has, however, stated that she would first seek to revise France’s terms with the EU, and would then ask for a referendum which would allow the people to decide whether they want to remain in the bloc. She says EU membership has stripped France of its autonomy, on topics including immigration, monetary, and fiscal policy.
The candidate has also hit out at mass immigration, Islamic fundamentalism and financial globalization.