Le Pen takes aim at ‘weak’ Macron

Le Pen takes aim at ‘weak’ Macron

Centrist French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron (pictured) took a big step towards the Elysee Palace on Sunday by winning the first round of voting and qualifying for a May 7 runoff against far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen.

She accused Macron of being “weak” on Islamist terrorism while her aides called him “arrogant” for holding a glitzy party in a high-end bistro “as if he’d already won”. Le Pen won 21.4 per cent of the national vote, just behind Macron, an independent, who came top on 23.9 per cent.

Macron, 39, has never held elected office, opinion polls suggested he would easily beat Le Pen, who also has limited executive experience.

The result marks a new low for the centre-right and centre-left parties that have dominated French politics for 60 years but reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock as parties unify behind Macron.

Macron told cheering supporters of his En Marche! (Onwards) movement: “In one year, we have changed the face of French politics.”

Rival candidates urged their supporters to put their energies into backing Macron and stopping Le Pen, saying her anti-immigration and anti-EU policies would be disastrous.

Harris and Ipsos/Sopra Steria polling said Macron would win the runoff by around 64 per cent to 36.

The French stock market hit a two-year high this morning.

Anna Stupnytska, global economist at Fidelity International, says investors should be remain cautious until after the presidential run-off.

“Markets will be buoyed by the positive outcome of the French election last night, with the centrist Emmanuel Macron going on to face the far right Marine Le Pen. This is not just because Macron is likely to win. Concerns over polling reliability and the turnout rate have been allayed after Sunday’s strong figures and markets reacted positively to the result in Asian trading this morning, with the euro up against the US dollar and Japanese yen and French bonds performing well.

“However, Le Pen could still potentially win the second round. It is probably too early for markets to see a big relief rally just yet or indeed, for the ECB to send any signals on tapering its bond purchase programme this week. The focus now will be on whether Le Pen changes her anti-EU messages in the next few days, with the Le Pen-Macron debate scheduled for May 3.”

Picture credit: Flickr 

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