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Monday, April 24, 2017

France Decides: Macron and Le Pen Headed for Runoff


In France’s most consequential election in recent history, voters on Sunday chose Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to go to a runoff to determine the next president, official returns showed. One is a political novice, the other a far-right firebrand -  both outsiders, but with starkly different visions for the country. 

The result was a full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream parties, setting the country on an uncertain path in an election that could also decide the future of the European Union.

It is the first time in the nearly 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic that both of the final candidates are from outside the traditional left-right party structure. Together, they drew less than half the total votes cast in a highly fractured election.
 
Marine Le Pen
Even before the official tallies were announced, the political establishment was rallying behind Mr. Macron, warning of the dangers of a victory by Ms. Le Pen’s far-right National Front, though few analysts give her much of a chance of winning the May 7 runoff.

Mr. Macron, a former investment banker, abandoned traditional parties a year ago to form his own movement with an eclectic blend of left and right policies. He campaigned on a pro-European Union platform, coupled with calls to overhaul the rules governing the French economy.
 
Emmanuel Macron

“The French people have decided to put me at the top in the first round of the vote,” Mr. Macron told jubilant supporters at a rally in Paris. “I’m aware of the honor and the responsibility that rest on my shoulders.”

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