Far-Right Le Pen and Center-Right Macron Frontrunners in French Election

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Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are set to face each other in a May 7 runoff for the French presidency after coming first and second in the first round of voting, early projections indicated.

Harris gave both conservative candidate Francois Fillon and far-left contender Jean-Luc Melenchon 20 percent, which would mean their elimination from the race.

The selection of Le Pen and Macron would present voters with the starkest possible choice between two diametrically opposed visions of the European Union's future and France's place in it.

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Le Pen's niece, young hardliner Marion Marechal-Le Pen, hailed a "historic victory for patriots and nationalists" but reaction at her headquarters was subdued compared with the euphoria at the Macron party.

Macron, a 39-year-old who had never before stood for election and only started his independent centrist movement 12 months ago, will be the overwhelming favourite to win the second round on May 7.

Emmanuel Macron celebrates after partial results in the first round of 2017 French presidential election, at the Parc des Expositions hall in Paris, France April 23, 2017.

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Supporters of Mr Macron and his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, went wild with cheers as polling agency projections suggested they could advance to the presidential run-off.

It also would represent a seismic shift in the French political landscape, with neither of the candidates from the mainstream left Socialists or the right-wing Republicans party - which have governed post-war France - making the runoff.

Meanwhile, an Ipsos Sopra Steria poll for France Televisions said Macron was seen winning 62 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Le Pen.

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The former prime minister who lost the Republicans nomination to Fillon previous year said he would vote "without hesitation" for Macron against the far-right, "which would lead France to disaster".

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