(EFE).- President Emmanuel Macron, a political liberal, and ultrarightist Marine Le Pen will vie for the French presidency in a runoff vote, just as they did five years ago, after receiving the two largest ballot counts in the first electoral round on Sunday, according to both nationwide vote projections and tallies from the 85 percent of the ballots counted so far, albeit not in some of the country’s largest cities.
Macron obtained between 28.1 and 29 percent of the votes while Le Pen received between 23.3 and 24.2 percent, according to the projections of four public opinion research firms.
As per the actual vote count, Macron has received 27.4 percent to Le Pen’s 25.05 percent, according to Interior Ministry figures, with this being the best-ever performance for the far right in any first presidential round.
The president thus appears to have improved on his first-round achievement five years ago, when he received 24.01 percent of the ballots, but Le Pen also managed to achieve better results than she did in the 2017 balloting, when she received 21.3 percent.
The results show a slight improvement for Macron compared with the last voter surveys before the vote, which also indicate that he will prevail in the runoff – scheduled for April 24 – but by a smaller margin than in 2017,when he garnered almost double the votes that Le Pen managed to acquire.
According to the projections from Sunday, Le Pen will exceed the vote total for leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is in third place, trying to win the presidency for the third time, with a little over 20 percent of the votes, a bit more than he garnered in 2017.
Ultrarightist Eric Zemmour is in fourth place in this electoral round with about 7 percent of the votes, and moderate rightist candidate Valerie Pecresse turned in the worst result in her party’s history, with 4.75 percent of the votes.
Something similar appears to be the case for ecologist Yannick Jadot, who also has about 4.4 percent of the votes, according to the vote count.
Ruralist candidate Jean Lassalle received about 3 percent of the votes, communist Fabien Roussel about 2.36 percent, while socialist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will not surpass 2 percent along with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, according to the projections.
The two Trotskyist candidates, Philippe Poutou and Nathalie Arthaud, did not manage to garner even 1 percent.
Voter turnout, according to non-definitive figures, was about 72.7 percent, the lowest for a modern first presidential round since the record low of 71.6 percent set in 2002.
Macron said Sunday that he was extending his hand to all voters, stating that he was ready to “invent something new to unite diverse convictions and sensibilities” with an eye toward winning the runoff.
“Your confidence does me honor … Nothing is decided and the debate that we’ll have in the next two weeks is decisive for our country and for Europe,” the president said.
“I want to extend my hand to all those who want to work for France … I want to convince you in the coming days that our platform responds with greater solidarity than that of the extreme right to the fears and challenges of the epoch,” he said.
In his remarks to supporters, Macron thanked the majority of the candidates who have been excluded from the runoff for urging their voters to cast their ballots for him in the second round and said he was aware that that support does not mean that they are providing “direct” support for his program.
“Some will vote for me to stop the extreme right. I know that it will not be support for the program that I represent and I respect that,” said Macron, who admitted that when the extreme right carries so much weight in France “one cannot think that things are going well” and one must convince that part of the public “with great humility and respect.”
Almost immediately after the polls closed, Macron received the unequivocal support of several other candidates to stop the ultraright in the runoff, with Pecresse, Hidalso, Jadot and Roussel all saying that they would vote for him and ask their own supporters directly to do so.
Le Pen would erase France “from the international scene” and “would bring chaos,” Pecresse said, while Melenchon said to applause from his supporters, “You mustn’t give even a single vote to Le Pen,” although he didn’t expressly ask them to vote for Macron.
Le Pen, meanwhile, received the support of Zemmour and Dupont-Aignant, who had backed her five years ago.
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