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Macron, Le Pen headed to runoff in France

By Conal Urquhart in London (China Daily USA) Updated: 2017-04-24 10:33

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will enter the second round of the French presidential election on May 7, according to a preliminary sample of all the votes cast.

Macron won 23-24 percent of the vote and Le Pen 21-23 percent, according to the survey. The sample is survey of actual votes cast in around 200 polling stations. The numbers are tallied and then fed through a computer program to provide a result that is normally within one percent of the final result.

If the sample proves correct, it means that neither the Socialist Party nor the Republican Party will contend the second round for the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic, the French political era which began in 1958.

Macron welcomed the preliminary result. "Today, the people of France have spoken. As our country confronts an unprecedented moment in its history, it has responded in the best way possible - by voting in huge numbers. It has decided to place me first in this first round," he said.

The defeated candidates called on their supporters to back Macron against Le Pen. Francois Fillon said: "Extremism can only bring unhappiness and division to France. There is no other choice than to vote against the far right. I will vote for Emmanuel Macron. I consider it my duty to tell you this frankly. It is up to you to reflect on what is best for your country, and for your children."

Speaking at her headquarters in northern France, Le Pen said: "The choice now is between a wild globalization, a world in which terrorists can travel free, and a France with strong borders. What I offer you is a true alternative, the renewal to which you aspire. The heir to Fran?ois Hollande can't bring this change.

"It is time to free the French people from the arrogant elite. I am the candidate of the people. I call all patriots wherever they come from, whatever their origin, to join me. What's at stake is France's survival."

Macron will be the favorite as most voters will unite around him to stop a Le Pen victory. But the Front National has a seasoned political machine and Macron's En Marche party is very inexperienced.

Le Pen's success emulates her father's in 2002. In the 2002 second round Jacques Chirac won 82.2 percent to Jean Marie Le Pen's 17.8 percent.

Opinion polls on Friday suggested that of the 11 candidates, Macron was in the lead followed by Le Pen, Fillon and Melenchon, with the others far off. But with 25 percent of voters undecided, the top four had everything to play for. News agency AFP estimated that Melenchon came third with 19.5-20 per cent, Fillon next with 19.5-20.3 per cent and the Socialist Party's Benoit Hamon with 6.1-7 percent.

Macron set up his own party En Marche to support his candidacy, Le Pen represents the Front National party set up by her father, Fillon represents the Republicans and Melenchon is supported by the Communist Party.

Only Macron has not prioritized better relations with Russia as part of foreign policy,

The result feared by most in France and Europe was Le Pen and Melenchon coming first and second. Both are anti-EU, the euro and free trade.

Fillon was mortally wounded by allegations he employed family members at the public expense in non-existent jobs, but he quickly rallied as many voters did not see him as any more corrupt than a typical politician.

At 5pm, the Ministry of Interior said that 69.42 percent had voted by that time, compared to 70.59 per cent in 2012.

The election took place under high security after Karim Cheurfi shot a policeman in Paris before being shot himself on April 22. ISIS later said that Cheurfi acted on their behalf.

(China Daily USA 04/24/2017 page3)


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