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Outsider Macron sets sights on presidency

Outsider Macron sets sights on presidency

PARIS, APR 24, (DNA) – Centrist Emmanuel Macron has gone through to the second round of the French election, where he will face far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Mr Macron, a former banker, is seen as a political outsider, having never run an election campaign before.

After topping Sunday’s vote, he is now favourite to win the run-off on 7 May.

It is the first time in six decades that neither of France’s main left-wing or right-wing parties has a candidate in the second round.

With 97% of votes counted, Mr Macron stands at 23.9% with Ms Le Pen on 21.4%.

Their nearest challengers, centre-right François Fillon and hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, fell behind, with just over 19% each.

In a victory speech to supporters, Mr Macron borrowed language favoured by his rival to describe himself as the patriotic choice for France.

“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,” he said.

Ms Le Pen also made an “appeal to all patriots”, saying a vote for her was a key to the “survival of France”.

“Wherever they come from, whatever their origin, whatever they voted for in the first round, I invite them all to join us and to abandon ancient quarrels and to concentrate on what is essential for our country,” she said.

Ms Le Pen’s campaign for the Front National party centres on wanting to slash immigration, clamp down on free-trade, and overturn France’s relationship with Europe.

Mr Macron was current President Francois Hollande’s economy minister but quit to create his own party, En Marche, which pushes a liberal, pro-EU agenda.

At 39, he could become the youngest president France has ever had.

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