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LIVE: French elections – latest updates

France voted on Sunday in the first round of a bitterly fought presidential election that could define the future of the European Union, and is sure to be seen as a gauge of the anti-establishment anger that has brought upsets in Western politics.

Over 50,000 police and 7,000 soldiers backed by rapid response units patrolled streets three days after a suspected Islamist gunman shot dead a policeman and wounded two others in the heart of the capital, Paris. Voters will decide whether to back a pro-EU centrist newcomer (Emmanuel Macron), a scandal-ridden veteran conservative who wants to slash public expenditure (Francois Fillon), a far-left eurosceptic admirer of Fidel Castro (Jean-Luc Melenchon), or a far-right nationalist (Marine Le Pen) who, as France’s first woman president, would shut borders and ditch the euro.

Polls have just closed in the French presidential election and projections on all three main French TV networks suggest that centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine le Pen will contest the second round on 7 May

23:43 Emmanuel Macron says he wants to be a “president for patriots faced with the threat of nationalism”.

23:36 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has congratulated Emmanuel Macron on today’s result. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has praised Macron supporters for flying French and EU flags. “The result is the hope and future of our generation,” she tweeted.

23:22 Front-runner Emmanuel Macron tells cheering supporters in Paris: “We have changed the face of French political life in one year.”

22:50 Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, has welcomed the projections that Macron is through to the second round.”It’s about France, of course, but it’s also about Europe,” he says.

“I’m happy that Emmanuel Macron has won this round because he was the only truly pro-Europe candidate. I am sure that he will put right wing extremism and populism and Euroscepticism in its place in the second round.

“He’s a seriously nice man and a good friend.”

22:40 France’s interior ministry says with 20 million votes counted, Marine Le Pen has 24.38%, ahead of Emmanuel Macron on 22.19%. François Fillon has 19.63% and Jean-Luc Mélechon 18.09%. That would represent about half the vote, but will not include the main cities.

22.29 Jean-Luc Mélenchon leads the race in the overseas departments of Martinique and French Guiana, with 27% and 25% respectively, according to Le Figaro

22.18 French President François Hollande spoke with Emmanuel Macron by phone to congratulate him for making it through to the run-off.

22.15  The business of actually counting the votes has only just begun and the official result won’t be announced for some time.

22.10  Marine Le Pen thanks “patriotic voters” for a “historic result” and vows to defend the French nation and “its independence”.

22.05  The EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, has tweeted his support for centrist Emmanuel Macron in the second round.”As a patriot and a European, I will place my confidence in Emmanuel Macron on 7 May. France should stay European!”

22.03  At 39, Emmanuel Macron would be the youngest president of the Republic of France since Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, AFP reports. Louis Napoleon was 40 when he came to power in 1848.

21.58  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 Sunday’s first round of voting, early projections indicated.Below are reactions from a selection of economists, analysts and fund managers.

PAUL LAMBERT, FUND MANAGER AND HEAD OF CURRENCY MANAGEMENT AT INSIGHT INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT

“All the polling that we are seeing would suggest that in the second round it would be very difficult for Le Pen to make major further gains, while Macron should pick up significant further votes. I think people will be fairly confident that Macron will win in the second round and the market will be relieved by that. The euro will benefit from the perceived decline in the break-up risk in the euro area.

It was expected that Macron would get through so I’m not sure there will be significant further (euro) moves tomorrow. The euro might see a little bit more strength over the coming days and a tightening of French bond spreads against Bunds, generally ‘risk-on’ currencies will probably do quite well, peripheral bond yields come down and probably upside in European stocks.”

RICHARD MCGUIRE, HEAD OF RATES STRATEGY AT RABOBANK

“On the face of it, the results are risk-positive. The assumption now is that centrist voters will rally around Macron, denying Le Pen the presidency and hence this will effectively be a pro-establishment, pro-European result which will be positive for risk appetite on Monday morning.

We are likely to see a notable tightening of European sovereign spreads and this would also be positive for the euro and stocks.

But the staggering of the election results this year means the exit polls have to be taken with a degree of caution. The exit polls for Brexit and Trump were wrong so only time will tell.”

TIMOTHY ASH, ECONOMIST AT BLUEBAY ASSET MANAGEMENT

“Despite all the hype about the rise of populism, 60 percent of voters went for mainstream candidates. With the Afd in the wane in Germany, it seems like Trump marked the turning point for electorates playing the protest vote. In an uncertain world they rather go for what they know best and want to take fewer risks. That could be the bigger story for 2017 – seen in Dutch elections, maybe UK and very likely Germany.”

21.51  “Picture of the day,” tweets French TV host. The image is of outgoing President François Hollande watching the election results in what looks like the Elysée Palace. Hollande is the first sitting president in modern French history not to seek re-election.
 

21.41 Macron seen on 23.3 PCT in first round of French Presidential elections, Le Pen on 21.6 PCT of votes, Melenchon and Fillon tied on on 20.1 PCT – IFOP-Fiducial estimates (Reuters)

21.39 Macron and Le Pen are neck and neck at 23%, according to a poll by Kantar Sofres Onepoint carried by Le Figaro newspaper.

21.26 The BBC’s Kevin Connolly reports from Marine Le Pen’s headquarters in the northern town of Hénin-Beaumont:

“At a sports hall in the old mining town, loyal supporters erupted in cheers when it became clear French TV projected that she’d made into the second round.

“Their blue-and-white banners say ‘Marine-Présidente’ and as they waited for the announcement they managed a slightly ragged rendition of the Marseillaise and the occasional chant of ´On va gagner’ (We’re going to win.)

“Her supporters, though, have a worry: the general assumption in French politics is that in a second round, mainstream voters from right and left will rally behind any other candidate to beat her. That’s an electoral mountain to climb. But those fears are for tomorrow. Tonight the French National Front is celebrating.”

21.25 Although the results are close, the final ranking in the first round could play an important symbolic role ahead of the May 7 run-off. Most early polls are giving Macron 23-24%, ahead of Le Pen with about 22%. But one poll from Kantar Sofres says Le Pen and Macron both scored 23% in the first round.
21.16 Defeated traditional parties lose no time moving behind Emmanuel Macron in an effort to block far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen: Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon urges voters to back Macron as strongly as possible in the second round after a “heavy defeat” for the left in the first. Former conservative prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin says: “Without hesitation, as far I’m concerned, we must unite behind Emmanuel Macron”.
21.14 Initial estimates according to Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll for France Télévisions:

Emmanuel Macron: 23.7%

Marine Le Pen: 21.7%

François Fillon: 19.5%

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: 19.5 %

Benoît Hamon: 6,2 %

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: 5 %

Jean Lassalle: 1.5 %

Philippe Poutou: 1.2 %

François Asselineau: 0.8 %

Nathalie Arthaud: 0.7%

Jacques Cheminade: 0.2 %

21.05 Emmanuel Macron leads, Marine Le Pen takes second place in French presidential election, according to early results from FRANCE 24’s partner Ipsos. Marcron 23.7% Le Pen 21.7%

21.03 French centrist Emmanuel Macron has come out on top in the first round of France’s presidential election with far right leader Marine Le Pen in second place, which means both have qualified for the May 7 runoff vote, pollsters projections from partial results showed on Sunday.

Macron won 23.7 percent of the vote and Le Pen 21.7 percent, an Ipsos/Sopra Steria estimate showed. Macron got 23 percent of the vote and Le Pen got 22 percent in an estimate from Harris Interactive. An Ifop estimate put Macron at 23.8 and Le Pen at 21.6 percent.
21.00 The last polling stations close on the hour in France’s big cities. The rest of the country has already voted and is settling down to watch the outcome on national TV.
20.56 Pollsters saying final participation in vote around 80 percent
20.53  This BBC photo is of Jean-Luc Mélenchon arriving surrounded by journalists. He’s keeping quiet, but his campaign was renowned for its clever use of holograms. And in the last few weeks he’s been rising in the polls. What’s going through his mind?
20.40 Current affairs magazine Marianne says it has been told by National Front campaign director David Rachline it will have to watch the results on the TV and cannot enter the party’s headquarters. The far-right FN apparently says the hall is too crowded and “we had to make choices”. Marianne’s accusing the party of censorship.
20.37 Mathieu Rosemain reports from the Macron election HQ as supporters gather for the results of the first round.
20.31 BBC correspondent Thomas Fessy posts an image of journalists waiting for the arrival of centre-right contender François Fillon. Tension is building.

20.29 Downbeat tone emerging from Socialist Benoit Hamoin’s election-night base, where the main concern appears to be whether alternative left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon will go through. “We hope the score will be worthy of this very fine campaign. We would hope to qualify but it doesn’t seem to be the case,” adviser Julia Cage tells Reuters correspondent Dominique Vidalon.

20.26 The French interior ministry says anyone receiving “fake texts predicting results” should ignore them as it does not send texts. “The interior ministry isn’t putting out any results, either by text or any other way before 20:00 (France time, 10pm Cyprus time),” it has tweeted.

20.20 Excitement is building and flags are waving at Macron’s headquarters. Supporters are in the hall, says AFP correspondent Lina Trabelsi.


20.17 Three days after Xavier Jugelé was shot dead by a gunman on the Champs Elysees, a Mass is being held at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris in his memory while voting nears an end in Paris. Two police officers are still being treated in jail for the pre-election attack and dozens of police are taking part in the Mass.

20.03 In a sports hall in the Northern town of Hénin-Beaumont the press is gathering in force to hear Marine Le Pen, says the BBC’s Kevin Connolly.

20:02 Polls are drawing to a close in France where voters have been turning up in the many thousands to cast their ballots in the country’s most unpredictable presidential election for year. The first polling stations are closing their doors now (19:00 local time). Major cities have another hour. Attention is turning to the headquarters across France of the main candidates as they prepare their speeches after a busy day.
19.58 At the election rally of Emmanuel Macron, Reuters reporter @mrosemain finds evidence of the slick organisational style which propelled the centrist former banker ‘s campaign, but which some say might rankle with traditional voters.  Press have green badges, Macron’s team pink badges  and young “helpers” – with their yellow badges written in English –  buzz around journalists to ask if they have any queries. Macron’s team expect about 3,000 to attend the rally at an exhibition centre.

19.54 Minutes to go before main polls close but reminder that we may have to wait longer than in past years to get

reliable projections because some of the first polling stations to close will do so later than in previous votes.

Reuters correspondent following the French election. Live from candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon's election night site #FacebookLive #France2017

Publié par Sarah White sur dimanche 23 avril 2017

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