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

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

His deregulation policies, she said, would lead to unjust worldwide competition against France's business interests, mass immigration and free movement of terrorists. "It will be made up of new faces and new talent in which every man and woman can have a place", he said.

THE QUOTE: "It seems like a "relief rebound" following the result of the French election just a few hours ago, which shows that Macron and Le Pen will go head-to-head in the final round".

"Extremism can can only bring unhappiness and division to France", Fillon said.

Le Pen, who is herself bidding to make history as France's first female president, follows in the footsteps of her father, who founded the National Front and reached the second round of the presidential election in 2002.

Le Pen said the second round would be a battle over France's future, with her vision of a France out of the European Union and behind reinforced borders radically different from her opponent's.

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

Marine Le Pen's supporters celebrate at a rally in Henin-Beaumont, France on April 23, 2017.

And while the White House insists that it had no desire to put a finger on the scale of a foreign election, Trump has left little doubt about whom he wanted to win, even if his tweet on Sunday ahead of the results was cryptic: "Very interesting election now taking place in France". Even under a constitution that concentrates power in the president's hands, both Macron and Le Pen will need legislators in parliament to pass laws and implement much of their programs.

In Paris, protesters angry at Le Pen's advance - some from anarchist and anti-fascist groups - scuffled with police.

Two people were injured and police detained three people as demonstrators burned cars, danced around bonfires and dodged riot officers.

"He represents France's future, a future within Europe", she said.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was ultimately crushed when voters from right and left rallied around the conservative Jacques Chirac in order to keep out a party whose far-right, anti-immigrant views they considered unpalatably xenophobic. "He will win because he is able to unite people from the right and the left against the threat of the National Front and he proposes real solutions for France's economy".

The leader of the far-right National Front party has received less congratulations.

Defeated socialist candidate Benoît Hamon was joined by the party's Bernard Cazeneuve, the current prime minister, in encouraging support for Macron. 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