- Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron qualify to the second round.
- Anti-fascist protesters held demonstrations in Paris ahead of Le Pen’s rally.
- Violence broke out between protestors and riot police.
- European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker wishes Macron luck for the next polling phase.
- The second round of polling will be held on 7 May.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron as he emerged the clear favourite in projected results after the first round of France's presidential election.
Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg, also wished Macron "good luck" in the 7 May second round of voting, when he will face far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, according to the projections.
"@JunckerEU congratulated @EmmanuelMacron for his result in the first round and wished him good luck for the next," according to Juncker's tweet yesterday, which he sent in French.
Other EU officials also welcomed Macron's strong showing.
Many officials in Brussels had privately expressed concerns about Le Pen, a eurosceptic who has taken a hard line on immigration.
Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief negotiator on Britain's withdrawal from the EU, hinted at concerns that Le Pen could lead France away from the 28-nation bloc.
The Euro vaulted to five-month peaks in choppy Asian trading on Monday after the market's favoured candidate won through the first round of the French election, sparking a mass unwinding of safe-haven trades.
The outcome lessens the risk of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain's vote to quit the European Union with Macron widely tipped to win the final vote and keep France in the union.
Sunday's outcome is a huge defeat for the two centre-right and centre-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years, and also reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain's vote last June to quit the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as US president.
Macron was leading with 23/54 per cent with Marie Le Pen shortly behind with a 22.33 per cent after 40 million votes were counted.
Two men suspected of plotting an attack ahead of France's presidential election were charged on Sunday with with participating in a terrorist conspiracy and with possession of illegal weapons, prosecutors said.
Elite police arrested the two Frenchmen – 23-year-old Clement Baur and Mahiedine Merabet, 29 – on Tuesday in the Marsailles, AFP reported.
Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron called on all "patriots" to rally behind him against the threat of what he called "nationalists," after qualifying on Sunday for the French election's runoff against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
"I want to be the president of patriots against the threat of nationalists," the 39-year old centrist told a cheering crowd of supporters.
Macron, whose "En Marche!" party is only one year old and has never taken part in any parliamentary election, also said he would as soon as Monday work on building a parliament majority to be able to govern after legislative elections in June.
"In one year, we have changed the face of French politics," Macron said.
Je veux être un président qui protège, qui aide ceux qui ont moins. Un président qui permette de créer, d’innover, d'entreprendre. pic.twitter.com/wY70z6g9V9— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 23, 2017
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron are leading in the official vote count in France's presidential election with about 38-39 per cent of votes counted so far, official figures from the Interior Ministry showed on Sunday.
The figures do not include results from France's major cities, where Le Pen's level of support tends to be low relative to smaller towns and villages where counts were complete.
With 20 million votes counted from France's 47 million strong electorate and pollster projections pointing to a turnout approaching 80 per cent, the figures put Le Pen on 24.38 per cent, Macron on 22.19 percent, conservative Francois Fillon on 19.63 percent and Jean-Luc Melenchon on 18.09 per cent.
Hailing the “historic result” after qualifying for the runoff, French far right leader Marine Le Pen vowed on Sunday to defend France against "rampant globalisation" after she qualified to fight out the second round of the country's presidential election against centrist Emmanuel Macron.
This result is historic. It puts on me a huge responsibility to defend the French nation, its unity, its security, its culture, its prosperity and its independence. It is time to liberate the French people. The main thing at stake in this election is the rampant globalisation that is endangering our civilisation.
She urged French voters to shake off the shackles of an "arrogant elite".
Le Pen also said that Macron stands for 'offshoring of jobs, mass immigration, free movement of terrorists'.
French president Francios Hollande called Macron to congratulate him on qualifying for the second round of the French Presidential elections.
Protestors took to the streets of Paris to hold demonstrations against ring-wing candidate Marie Le Pen ahead of her rally. Anti-fascist slogans like “This is Paris! Paris is antifascist!” were heard. Clashes were reported in Paris between riot police and protesters. More than hundred windows of shops and offices were reportedly smashed. A lot of anti riot police personnel have been deployed in Place de la Bastille.
With pollsters indicating a lead for Emmanuel Macron and Marine La Pen in the first round of the French Presidential polls, The Republicans party candidate Francois Fillon appealed to people to vote for Macron in the second and penultimate round.
Saying that Le Pen’s victory in the polls would lead to bankruptcy for the country, he told Reuters:
There is no other choice but to vote against the far right, I will vote for Emmanuel Macron.
Meanwhile, France Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve as well as foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also rallied for support to be given to Macron in the second round.
A projection by Ipsos/Sopra Steria put the centrist En Marche! leader Emmanuel Macron in the front, with 23.7 per cent vote. Trailing behind him was far-right candidate of the National Front, Marine La Pen, garnering 21.7 per cent vote.
Meanwhile, a Harris Interactive projection put the former at 23 per cent, with the latter getting 22 per cent. Ifop projected a slightly bigger margin for Macron than the other two, putting him at 23.8 percent, in comparison to Le Pen’s 21.6 per cent.
These early indications show that it would be Macron and La Pen who would be advancing to the run-off round to be held on 7 May, where two candidates will have a face-off to decide the country’s President.
(With inputs from Reuters)