Over 78% of the registered voters who went to the polling stations in France have disregarded the country’s political establishment of over 3 decades, sending far-right populist Marine Le Pen and political novice Emmanuel Macron through to the second round of the French presidential election.
With almost 100% of polling stations declared, newcomer Emmanuel Macron is leading the presidential race with 23.86% votes. National Front leader Marine Le Pen is second with 21.43% votes.
It is a victory for Emmanuel Macron, 39, a former investment banker who has never before stood for elected office and now becomes the favorite to become France’s next President. “We did it!” he told jubilant supporters gathered at Porte de Versailles, Paris.
As his supporters waved Tricolour flags, and those of the EU, Macron told his supporters he would carry “the voice of hope that we want for our country and for Europe,” into the second round. “The two political parties that have governed France for years have been discarded,” he said. “The deep feeling which has led our people to love our country and overcome its divisions is spectacular,” he said. “You have shown that the hope of our country was not a dream but a relentless and benevolent will.”
It was also a success for Marine Le Pen, who has spent several years attempting to get the Front National party out of the infamous legacy of her father who ran for (and lost) the presidential election in 2002 against Jacques Chirac. “It is time to free French people from arrogant elites… I am the people’s candidate” she said.
Speaking in Henin-Beaumont, a Front National stronghold in northern France, Marine Le Pen rallied her supporters to her anti-immigration, anti-European Union message. “The French people must seize this opportunity, because the enormous challenge of this election is the wild globalization that puts our civilization at risk,” she said. “Either we continue to disintegrate without any borders, without any controls, unfair international competition, mass immigration and the free circulation of terrorists, or you choose France with borders,” she added.
The result was a hit to France’s traditional mainstream parties, setting the country on an uncertain path at a critical moment when France’s election could also decide the future of the European Union, the Euro, SHENGEN and NATO and other European or international involvements.
The two candidates are headed to a runoff on May 7
After the results, the party !
Emmanuel Macron celebrated his victory at a Parisian eatery frequented by Ernest Hemingway and other artistic dignitaries. The choice to dine at La Rotonde in the Montparnasse neighborhood fits with Macron’s literary leanings, he has quoted poets and philosophers in his campaign speeches.
Photo by Kent Wang (cc)
La Rotonde has little in common with the Fouquet’s restaurant on the Champs-Elysees, where Nicolas Sarkozy had diner the night he was elected president in 2007.
Media reports say that Marine Le Pen spent the evening in Henin-Beaumont.
Glasses of wine was toast at the French Interior Ministry press center as staff and journalists sighed relief that the vote count went as expected.
Protests and demonstrations
French police have detained three people in election night protests, as demonstrators burned cars, danced around bonfires and dodged riot police. A Paris police official says that no injuries have been reported in scuffles between protesters and police at the Place de la Bastille.
Protesters have waved red flags and sung “No Marine and No Macron!” in anger at the results of Sunday’s first-round presidential election.
Reuters video : Protesters at Paris Place de la Bastille clash with police as the results of the first round in the French presidential election are announced.
Cover photos by Xavier Buaillon / Flickr (cc)