‘It’d be catastrophic’ Support grows for Macron as losing candidates rally against Le Pen

Macron and Le Pen to face each other in presidential run-off

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The centrist French President won the first round of voting with exit polls placing his support at 28 percent. National Rally leader Marine Le Pen also looks set to improve on her 2017 performance with 23 percent of the vote. However, Sunday night’s poll also saw 26 percent abstain from voting as the French public become disengaged with politics.

Mr Macron addressed his supporters after receiving news of his projected first round win and warned that “nothing is decided”.

He said: “I invite all including those who did not vote for me in the first round to rally behind us.

“Pandering to populism and xenophobia – that’s not France.”

He added: “The debate that we are going to have over the next fortnight will be decisive for our country and Europe… I believe in us all, regardless of origins, beliefs.”

The President concluded: “I am counting on you. Nothing is decided. [Let’s move] forward.”

Meanwhile, Ms Le Pen vowed to be the “President of all French people” and to “put France in order within five years” as people chanted around her chanted their support.

In 2016, Macron wrote: “If we don’t pull ourselves together in five or ten years, [Ms Le Pen] will be in power”.

This must be a point of concern for both Macron and his centrist supporters that his prediction six years ago has a higher chance of happening since the 2017 election despite his presidency.

An Ifop opinion poll for the run-off in two weeks’ time shows a tight win for Macron by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin.

The candidates who lost Sunday’s run-off have unevenly split themselves across the two camps with the majority siding with Macron to block the far-right candidate.

Far-left candidate Jean Luc Mélenchon urged voters that “there must not be one single vote for Le Pen in the second round”.Mr Mélenchon took around 20 percent of the vote, meaning his support of one candidate over another could substantially sway the second vote.

However, even in his criticism of Le Pen, he did not urge voters to vote for Macron either.

Conservative candidate Valerie Pécresse told France to “say no to extremism” and added that Le Pens’ “historical proximity with Vladimir Putin discredit her from defending the interest of our country in these tragic times”.

Joining in the block against Le Pen was Anne Hidalgo from the Socialist Party, Fabien Roussel from the Communist party and Greens’ Yannick Jadot who all collectively received less than 10 percent of the vote.

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“Her election would mean that France would become irrelevant on the European and international scenes.”

Far-right candidate Eric Zemmour stood alone as he urged his supporters to vote for Le Pen and said his party would continue to fight for its unique ideas.

He said: “If electorally nothing changes, politically everything has changed because we arrived.”

An attendee at Macron’s headquarters in Paris told the BBC: “Every other candidate who lost tonight should call for a Macron vote. 

“It’s only common sense, we can’t be ruled by the extreme in our country, it’d be catastrophic.”

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