Le Pen, Macron ahead in French presidential vote, partial official figures show

Following the victory of French independent candidate Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert expressed his satisfaction with the result. "I am the people's candidate", she announced. It set up a battle between Macron's optimistic vision of a tolerant France, a united Europe with open borders against Le Pen's darker, inward-looking platform that called for closed borders, tougher security, less immigration and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the French franc.

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 percent of votes counted so far, official figures from the Interior Ministry showed on Sunday.

Beaten candidates such as socialist Benoit Hamon and conservative Francois Fillon were quick to give their support to Macron for the second round in an attempt to block the anti-EU, populist Le Pen from winning on May 7.

With Le Pen wanting France to leave the European Union and Macron wanting even closer cooperation between the bloc's 28 nations, Sunday's outcome meant the May 7 runoff will have undertones of a referendum on France's European Union membership. "In an uncertain world, they rather go for what they know best and want to take fewer risks", he said.

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Le Pen's niece, young hardliner Marion Marechal-Le Pen, hailed a "historic victory for patriots and nationalists" but reaction at her headquarters was subdued compared with the euphoria at the Macron party.

Political analysts say Macron's apparent win today showed that many French people still believe in a more liberal, open, global society even as populists have won big victories in the a year ago with the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's election in the United States.

The first leg of the presidential election administered a stunning defeat for the two main right and left parties that have dominated France for decades, underlining the dissatisfaction with conventional politics that has been a feature of the French campaign.

"He represents France's future, a future within Europe", she said. It's also the first ever to be held while France is under a state of emergency, put in place since the November 2015 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead.


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