Euro jumps, yen drops on French vote

Politicians on the moderate left and right, including French President Francois Hollande and the losing Socialist and Republican party candidates in Sunday's first-round vote, maneuvered to block Le Pen's path to power.

"Marine Le Pen is going to frame this as a face-off between Emmanuel Macron, the candidate of the globalised elite, and herself as the people's candidate", he said.

The 39-year-old investment banker and former government minister's self-created party "En Marche!" quickly attracted hundreds of thousands of members and surged in the polls.

The results of the vote were soothing in part because fears of a potential Le Pen runoff with far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, both of whom distrust the European Union, did not play out.

Jacques Chirac crushed Le Pen with more than 82% of the vote, the biggest landslide ever in a French presidential vote, amid a huge turnout where only 20% of registered voters stayed home.

Throughout the campaign, Macron insisted that France was "contrarian" - ready to elect a pro-globalisation liberal at a time when rightwing nationalists are making gains across the world.

The same polls showed Macron defeating Le Pen by as much as 30 percentage points in two weeks' time, suggesting players can buy back into the currency.

Voters collectively turned up their noses at the political establishment Sunday, in the first round of the French presidential election.

"It's definitely risky, but I have faith in the result even if an extreme candidate qualifies for the second round", said Beatrice Schopflin, who was queuing to vote in Paris.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed similar good wishes for the second round, his spokesman said in Brussels.

Mathilde Jullien, 23, said she is convinced Macron will beat Le Pen.

Le Pen, 48, has touted her pledges to suspend the EU's open-border agreement on France's frontiers, and to expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services, as the right response to a series of Islamist attacks in France.

At a rally on Sunday night, Le Pen spoke among her supporters and said that she is offering "the great alternative" in the Presidential race. In France, Macron leads by about 24 points. Europe could benefit too from a renewed effort by France and Germany to strengthen the cohesion of the eurozone, he added.

The euro scaled five-month highs against the dollar in early Asian trading on Monday on relief at the result, while USA stock index futures rose sharply on Sunday.

Such a stand was adopted by a long list of politicians of different trends in a panorama nearly of massive alignment in favor of the 39 year-old politician.

Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, wrote on Twitter late Sunday night: "Good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with his course for a strong European Union + social market economy".

Ms Le Pen seems destined to suffer the same fate as her father, who founded the National Front party, when she heads into the run-off.

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

Nine other candidates were eliminated. "The center is stronger than the populists think!"

  • Leroy Wright