Asian stocks mixed as investors mull French election outcome

FRENCH far-right leader Marine Le Pen has hailed a "historic" result after she reached the run-off of the presidential election by finishing second behind centrist Emmanuel Macron in the first round.

Sunday evening local time, with 71 percent of votes counted, the French Interior Ministry said Le Pen received 23.3 percent of the vote while Macron received 22.98 percent.

France's two political outsiders - the progressive, pro-business and socially liberal Macron and the anti-immigration, anti-EU, far-right Le Pen - will now face off in a final round on 7th May.

The third and fourth place candidates were François Fillon with 19.9 percent of the vote, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon with 19.3 percent of the vote respectively.

Emmanuel Macron will take on Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election.

"It's a victory for openness, social-mindedness", Macron supporter Marie-Helene Visconti, a 60-year-old artist, said at his election party where the European Union flag was waved alongside the French tricolore.

Unpopular incumbent President Francois Hollande, who made the unusual move previous year of pledging to not stand for re-election, voted in his political fiefdom of Tulle in Correze, southwestern France.

"In your name, I will be. the voice of hope for our country and for Europe", said Macron, who had never before stood for election and only started his centrist movement 12 months ago.

A pro-European, he has called for gradual deregulation of France's economy and a multi-billion dollar public investment plan.

Ex-Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who was trailing the two leading candidates, said he will vote for Macron and urged his supporters to do the same.

His deregulation policies, she said, would lead to unjust worldwide competition against France's business interests, mass immigration and free movement of terrorists. More important for the question of political stability, the results showed that Europe's mainstream parties remain more exposed than ever. "In France, obviously nationalism/populism is on the rise, but what's unclear is if there are enough voters to carry Le Pen across the finish line".

The result in the first round of the presidential election is a political natural disaster, that will most likely result in a win for the most status-quo candidate.

In his election day headquarters in Paris, Mr Macron promised to be a president "who protects, who transforms and builds".

For Americans, Duhamel said it would have been the equivalent of Ross Perot beating then-incumbent U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Democratic nominee Bill Clinton in the 1992 election.

"Either we continue to disintegrate without any borders, without any controls, unfair worldwide competition, mass immigration and the free circulation of terrorists, or you choose France with borders", she added.

The two politicians left in the race offer radically contrasting economic visions for a country whose economy lags that of its neighbours and where a quarter of young people are unemployed. Both the center-right Republican candidate and Socialist candidate who finished out of the running threw their support behind Macron.

Le Pen says "Islamism would be on the move" under a Macron presidency where as Macron accused Le Pen of making enemies out of France's Muslim population.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen will be nervous as she faces Macron, she had a much better chance if she were running against any of opponents who are now out of the running. Le Pen wants to print money to finance expanded welfare payments and tax cuts, ditch the euro currency and possibly pull out of the EU.

Voting took place amid heightened security in the first election under France's state of emergency, which has been in place since gun-and-bomb attacks in Paris in 2015.

  • Leroy Wright