Mainstream politics shut out as Le Pen, Macron win in France

French citizens have chosen centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen to contest the final round of the presidential election, set to take place on May 7.

Final results from the election's first round show that Macron got almost 1 million more votes than Le Pen, with both advancing to the May 7 runoff.

Le Pen seized on the flurry of endorsements for Macron from the ruling Socialists and main opposition Republicans - both of which crashed out in the first round - as proof he was the choice of the discredited old guard.

In the French capital, Macron picked up 35 percent of the vote, compared to Le Pen's five, perhaps explaining the difficulty in finding voices willing to express support for National Front (FN) leader in the city.

Le Pen went on the offensive against Macron in her first public comments Monday.

Soon after the results came in, two of Macron's major rivals in the race endorsed him -- Republican Francois Fillon and Socialist Benoit Hamon.

"The younger generation want something new, maybe Melenchon is too radical but we are stuck with politicians who do nothing", she said, adding that she thought Le Pen had little chance of winning.

Sabrine, Adewele, and Charlene, are student interns at an insurance company in central Paris.

Louis Aliot, a National Front vice-president and Le Pen's companion, insisted that Le Pen offers an alternative for anyone skeptical of the European Union and France's role in it.

"One Beur (Arab), one black, one white", he said sarcastically. "He criticised French culture", Florian Philippot, deputy leader of Le Pen's National Front, told BFM TV.

Adewele agreed and said he would move to an English-speaking country if Le Pen won, but does not think it is likely she will. They did Wednesday in 2007 and Macron now has several step-grandchildren.

"The voters who voted for Mr. Melenchon are angry voters".

"If French people made the effort to read Le Pen's programme, they would understand how negative her proposals are", he said.

France has seen a series of attacks by Islamist militants in the past two years which have killed more than 230 people; only three days before Sunday's vote, a policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris in an attack claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

"She has racist ideas and it's not possible that France would elect such a president".

Whichever candidate wins on May 7 will need to try to build a majority six weeks later in a parliament where the National Front now has only two seats and Macron's year-old En March!

Hitting that angle in Rouvroy, Le Pen, after urging "all patriots" on Sunday to rally behind her, on Monday handed out leaflets in which she pledged to "eradicate Islamist terrorism" and expel "Islamist foreigners".

"Marine Le Pen can not win because she's a woman".

Hollande said the far-right would "deeply divide France" at a time when the terror threat requires solidarity.

Sunday's outcome was a huge defeat for the two centre-right and centre-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years.

Macron has already managed to enlist some 50 sitting Socialist lawmakers to his cause, as well as a number of centrist party grandees.

  • Leroy Wright