With final French election results showing presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen on 24.01%, 21.30% respectively, France’s outgoing president, Francois Hollande, urged people to back centrist Emmanuel Macron in a vote to choose his successor next month.
Hollande appealed to the French to reject far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose place in the runoff represented a “risk” for France. He also endorsed Macron’s candidacy.
Macron and Le Pen, leader of the National Front, go head-to-head on May 7 after taking the top two places in Sunday’s first round.
Hollande, a Socialist nearing the end of five years of unpopular rule, threw his weight behind his former economy minister in a televised address, saying Le Pen’s policies were divisive and stigmatized sections of the population.
“The presence of the far-right in the second round is a risk for the country,” he said. “What is at stake is France’s make-up, its unity, its membership of Europe and its place in the world.”
Global markets reacted with relief to Sunday’s vote, which broke the dominance of established parties of the center-left and center-right but still left the most market-friendly and internationally-minded of the remaining contenders in pole position to become France’s next leader.
Surveys pointing to a clear Macron victory soothed investors who have been unnerved by Le Pen’s pledges to ditch the euro, print money and possibly quit the EU. Many had feared another anti-establishment shock to follow Britain’s “Brexit” vote and Donald Trump’s election as US president.
On the other hand, French conservative Francois Fillon, who failed to make it into the second round of an election for president on Sunday, said he would step back from any front-line role ahead of parliamentary elections in June.
Fillon, a 63-year-old former prime minister, had been favorite to win the presidency until late January, when he was hit by allegations that he was paying his wife and children from public funds for work they had not properly carried out.
The allegations, which he denied, dented his credibility as he was proposing to implement economic shock therapy of slashing public sector jobs and workers’ rights, and his ratings tumbled.