Macron Vs. Le Pen Set For French Presidential Runoff

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"In addition, there could be a stutter step that may temper the euro against the United States dollar from moving much higher, given the looming second round of elections, and in its face we could start to see greater risk premiums build".

French politicians on the left and right immediately urged voters to block Ms Le Pen's path to power in the May 7 vote, saying her virulently nationalist anti-EU and anti-immigration politics would spell disaster for France.

But previous attacks, such as the killing of 130 people in Paris by Islamist gunmen in November 2015 ahead of regional polls, have not appeared to affect voting.

For Macron, a big question would be whether he could win a majority in parliament in June.

The incumbent President, socialist François Hollande, whose approval ratings have remained in the doldrums for several years, made the unusual decision not to run for a second term.

The last polling stations were due to close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), and projections were likely to give early pointers to the outcome soon after.

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She called her runoff opponent the "heir" to current French President Francois Hollande.

Security has inevitably been an issue in campaigning, as have immigration and the economy.

Renko stood in line for over an hour to hit the polls and said she was shocked at how many people joined her.

It's not yet clear how the vote will be impacted by the attack Thursday on the landmark Champs Elysees boulevard in Paris, in which a policeman was killed.

While the presidential election in continental France is slated for April 23, the run-off is expected to take place on May 7. "It's a political natural disaster in this country and in Europe", veteran French journalist Christine Ockrent told CNN.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman hailed Macron's success. Populist candidates have also shaken up electoral politics in Holland and Italy. "We're turning a page in French political history".

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She has spoken of radical Muslims trying to supplant France's Judeo-Christian heritage and, among other measures, has called for foreigners suspected of extremism to be expelled from the country.

"He represents France's future, a future within Europe", she said. His party, "En Marche!" which was only created in September, now has more than 200,000 members and his meetings have attracted vast crowds. Macron is an ex-banker who served as economy minister but is otherwise a newcomer to the political scene as he has never served in elected office and only founded his party past year.

Fillon, the mainstream Republican candidate, was initially a frontrunner but his campaign stumbled thanks to a scandal over claims he paid his wife and children for work they did not do. He denies any wrongdoing.

And conservative Francois Fillon, rebounding after being plagued for months by a fake jobs scandal, promises economic shock therapy of deregulation and slashing taxes and state spending, cutting half a million state sector jobs.

Mélenchon has seen his popularity surge in recent weeks, following his impressive performances in the presidential television debates.

Aside from seven years from 1974 when Valery Giscard d'Estaing was elected president, the run-off marks the first time since the Fifth Republic constitution was adopted in 1958 that both the Gaullists and Socialists have been rejected in the vote for the presidency.

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