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Macron v Le Pen for French presidency

Macron v Le Pen for French presidency

Outsider Emmanuel Macron defied the odds to narrowly win the first round of voting in France's presidential elections.

The former banker will face-off against far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of voting, to be held on May 7. 

Macron won 23.8% of the votes in this first round, to Le Pen's 21.5%. Their nearest challengers were the centre-right and former prime minister Francois Fillon and the hard-left's Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who both won just over 19% of the vote each. 

There was a high voter turnout, with close to 79% of eligible voters participating. 

Macron is considered a political newcomer, despite having served as economy minister under current President Francois Hollande. He however, quit his post to found his own party, En Marche (Onward), which has a pro-liberal, pro-European Union agenda. 

Macron garnered a total of 8.4 million votes. 

Should he win, he will not only become the youngest-ever president of the Fifth French republic (he is 39)  but he will also be the first to win without the backing of a major party. 

Several of his political rivals are expected to unite behind him and support him against Le Pen, as they believe her party's far-right, anti-immigration stance is a high risk for the country. 

"I hope that in a fortnight I will become your president. I want to become the president of all the people of France - the president of the patriots in the face of the threat from the nationalists," Macron said in his victory speech. 

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