France's Macron vows to fight 'threat of nationalists'

Election graphic: * Decision Europe Eikon page: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?navid=72745 PARIS, April 24 (Reuters) - Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to face off in second-round vote on May 7.

If Ms Le Pen wins, it will further shake up the West's liberal post-war order, already rattled by Britain's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's election to the White House.

Meanwhile, defeated Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon said yesterday the left had suffered a "historic drubbing" in the first round of France's presidential election. "As such, there is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right".

"I want to be the president of the patriots against the threat of nationalists", the 39-year-old former banker told hundreds of flag-waving supporters.

Melenchon refused to cede defeat.

He said he wants to gather "the largest possible" support before the runoff. The early vote count includes primarily rural constituencies that lean to the right.

Le Pen, 48, known for her anti-immigration rhetoric, has vowed to take France out of EU.

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"In one year we have changed the face of French political life". Officers fired tear gas to disperse the rowdy crowd.

"As our country faces unprecedented moments, marked by terrorism, economic problems, suffering of the people, the citizens of France have had their say and gave the most lovely answer by coming to the polling stations en masse", he said at his electoral headquarters in Paris on Sunday evening.

"The main thing at stake in this election is the rampant globalization that is endangering our civilization", she added while calling herself "the candidate for the people". "All the democrats in France must now unite, so that he and no nationalist will become president", Schulz said in a tweet.

President Trump said this week that he believed Le Pen was "the strongest on what's been going on in France", while former President Barack Obama called to wish Macron well in the poll.

At 7 p.m. local time (17:00 GMT) the voting ended as the polling stations across France closed. It's also the first ever to be held while France is under a state of emergency, put in place since the November 2015 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead.

A new Harris survey saw Macron winning the runoff by 64 percent to 36, and an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll gave a similar result.

  • Ronnie Bowen