France's far-right reaches across spectrum as runoff looms

Who Will Prevail In French Presidential Election And Get To Preside Over Nation’s Decline

Security agencies in France were placed on red alert as the nation voted for a new president, amid fears of fresh jihadist terror attacks and riots in the Parisian suburbs.

Fillon said he would vote for Macron on May 7 because Le Pen's program "would bankrupt France" and throw the European Union into chaos.

Anne Sylvan-Chassany, FT correspondent in Paris, told us that "Obama is a very popular political figure in Paris, so it may have helped Macron's credibility".

"I have just sent her my honest congratulations".

Philippot called the independent centrist and former investment banker "arrogant" and said that in Sunday night's speech acclaiming his move into the second round "he was speaking as if he had won already".

Far-right expert Nonna Mayer at Sciences Po university said a Le Pen victory was not impossible, "but it seems unlikely that she will carry the second round".

BEARDSLEY: Yeah, this is a year like - a political year like no other. And there is a growth in the far-right populism.

"To see how the flags of France and the European Union greet the result of Emmanuel Macron - that is the hope and future of our generation", the EU's top diplomat, Federica Mogherin, wrote on Twitter. This is a totally new age.

He has had a consistent, and large, poll lead over Ms Le Pen for many months. If she had won, or the race had been closer, markets would likely have had a negative reaction.

BEARDSLEY: Yes, they're separated by two points.

There was a total of 11 candidates vying for France's top job, four of whom stood a real chance at making it through to the final round. The Socialist Party was split, so all the votes were scattered out.

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The two go through to a second round on May 7.

Jean-Marie Le Pen and conservative Jacques Chirac emerged the two winners in the first round of that election.

About an hour later the triumphant candidate appeared on the hall's stage, dressed as ever in a dark trouser suit, a huge grin spread across her glowing face.

If that view is right then Emmanuel Macron ought to be the next president of France. "We are, without doubt, beginning a new era".

Mathilde Jullien, 23, said she is convinced Macron will be able to win over Le Pen and become France's next president.

However, it was also a success for Le Pen, who has spent years attempting to rid the Front National of the toxic legacy of her father.

Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted that "the result for Emmanuel Macron shows: France AND Europe can win together!" Were France to also head for the door, most analysts think it would kill an institution that helped keep the peace and bind Europe together for decades. Can a 39 year old even aspire to be a Minister in Cameroon, let alone president?

Both Lüscher and MP Dominique de Buman saw the events as ushering in a "sixth republic" after the abject failure of the traditional left and right parties that have dominated French politics since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958. He wants to make France innovative and risk-taking.

The biggest initial beneficiary of the outcome was the euro, which jumped around 2 United States cents to $US1.09 this morning on the improved prospects for its long-term survival.

BEARDSLEY: You too, Ray.

SUAREZ: That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reporting from Paris.

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