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French election 2022 - live: Macron and Le Pen trade blows as political landscape labelled ‘field of ruins’

Final two candidates face each other in decisive vote on 24 April

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to face each other in French presidential run-off

French presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have attacked each other at the start of their run-off campaigns, after coming first and second respectively in the initial vote.

With just under two weeks to go until the final round, each politician wasted no time in casting aspersions against their rival.

Emmanuel Macron, if by some mischance he was re-elected, would feel totally free to continue his policy of social wreckage,” Ms Le Pen claimed, before turning to the cost-of-living crisis, her usual political line of attack.

For his part, Mr Macron accused the leader of the far-right National Rally party of being a “demagogue”, who told people what they wished to hear.

Responding to the first round results, Gérard Araud, a former French diplomat who is now a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, said his country’s political life was now “more than ever a field of ruins”.

“Macron is leading a centrist block of nearly 30 percent, but his only credible adversaries are extremists,” Gérard Araud explained.

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the French presidential election a day after the public cast their ballots in a first round vote that put Emmanuel Macron out in front, with Marine Le Pen following close behind.

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Macron on 27%, Le Pen on 23% after first round voting

With nearly all of the votes now counted, Emmanuel Macron has just over 27 per cent and Marine Le Pen has just under 24 per cent. Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon was third, missing out on the two-candidate runoff, with close to 22 per cent.

The result for Ms Le Pen is the best result a presidential candidate for National Rally has ever received in the first round.

Mr Macron’s share is the best first-round-vote performance for an incumbent president since 1988.

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Macron campaigns in northern France with warning ‘nothing decided yet'

Emmanuel Macron will take his campaign to win extra votes to the industrial heartlands of northern France on Monday.

The president will visit a blue-collar stronghold of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen who he will face in an April 24 presidential runoff vote.

“Let’s make no mistake, nothing has been decided yet,” he told his supporters after partial results showed him qualifying for the runoff.

He criticised his far-right rival over the financing of her populist economic agenda that would see the retirement age cut to 60 for those who start work before 20, income tax scrapped for the under-30s and VAT on energy reduced to 5.5% from 20%.

Mr Macron added: “Do you want a France that speaks of full employment and is serious about financing its welfare state, its pensioners, its schools, hospitals and public services?”

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What are the candidates policies?

Here is what the candidates are proposing:

Emmanuel Macron, La Republique En Marche

  • Progressively raise the retirement age from 62 to 65 and boost the minimum monthly pension
  • Six new-generation nuclear reactors, develop solar energy and wind farms at sea.
  • Strengthening external borders of the European passport-free area and creating a new force to better control national borders
  • Speed up processing of asylum and residence permit applications and to deport those who aren’t eligible
  • Make some welfare benefits conditional on 15-20 hours of training, similar to policies in countries such as the UK
  • Unemployment insurance, which currently guarantees workers up to two thirds of their salary for two years if they lose their job, would be linked to the strength of the economy

Marine Le Pen, National Rally

  • Ending family reunification policies, restrict social benefits to the French only and deport foreigners who stay unemployed for over a year
  • Implement a “Buy French” policy for public tenders
  • Cut the minimum retirement age to 60 for those who started work before 2
  • Scrap income tax for those aged under 30, and cut VAT on energy to 5.5 per cent from 20 per cent
  • Dismantle windfarms and invest in nuclear and hydro energy
  • A law banning Muslim headscarves in all public places, and outlawing events and financing considered to be spreading “Islamism”
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Neighbour Luxembourg ‘very worried’ at prospect of Le Pen victory

Victory for Marine Le Pen would be a worrying prospect for the European Union, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has said.

“I am very worried, I hope that we won’t get Le Pen as French president”, Mr Asselborn said before a meeting with fellow European ministers.

“It would not only be a break away from the core values of the EU, it would totally change its course. The French need to prevent this.”

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Vote shares in full

Vote shares with 97 per cent of ballots counted:

Emmanuel Macron - La République en marche 27.60%

Marine Le Pen - Rassemblement national 23.41%

Jean-Luc Mélenchon - La France insoumise 21.95%

Eric Zemmour - Reconquête 7.05%

Valérie Pécresse - Les Républicains 4.79%

Yannick Jadot - Europe-Ecologie-Les Verts 4.58%

Jean Lassalle - Résistons! 3.16%

Fabien Roussel - Parti communiste français 2.31%

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan - Debout La France 2.07%

Anne Hidalgo - Parti socialiste 1.74%

Philippe Poutou - Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste 0.77%

Nathalie Arthaud - Lutte ouvrière 0.57%

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Momentum back with Macron, says analyst

Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, said Le Pen “slightly overperformed on her best polls last night but underperformed expectations”.

He said: “Some thought she would beat Macron to first place. So momentum should now swing back to the President.

“It will still be a horribly close race ... Macron’s major problem is many moderate centre-right & centre-left voters already swung to him last-minute to avoid a first round ‘victory’ for Le Pen last night.”

Mr Rahman added that Mr Macron “will now aim to fight a more active and energetic campaign”.

Here is the full analysis:

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Macron ‘against forming coalition’ to secure power

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday that Emmanuel Macron was against forming a coalition government.

Asked about forming a pact between parties of different leanings to help Mr Macron stay in power, Mr Le Maire said: “I think we don’t have an interest to have a puzzle-style majority consisting of small pieces we have to permanently readjust.”

Mr Le Maire also said themes often associated with the political left, such as the fight against climate change and the strengthening of the European Union, would play a key role in the next two weeks of campaigning.

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Photos from French election first round voting

Emmanuel Macron reacts on stage after partial results were announced on Sunday evening

Nearly 50 million French people were called to the polls

Marine Le Pen speaks during an election night event after the first round of voting

Supporters of third place finisher Jean-Luc Mélenchon, react following his loss, in Paris

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Poll puts Macron on course to win 55% in run-off

New polling puts Emmanuel Macron on course to win the second round of the presidential election with 55 per cent of the vote.

The Opinionway-Kea Partners survey for Les Echos and Radio Classique suggested turnout of 71 per cent in the run-off.

Some 2,174 respondents were asked about their voting preference between April 10-11, with a margin of error of +/- 2.3 pts.

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