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Projections say Macron, Le Pen go through to runoff in French vote

News 23 Apr 2017

left right A combination picture shows portraits of the candidates who will run in the second round in the 2017 French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron (L), head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader. Pictures taken March 11, 2017 (R) and February 21, 2017 (L). REUTERS/Christian Hartmann 1/29 left right An official counts a ballot showing the name of Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, as the counting began for the first round of 2017 French presidential election, at a polling station in Tulle, central France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau 2/29 left right Officials empty a ballot box at the start of counting in the first round of 2017 French presidential election, at a polling station in Tulle, central France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau 3/29 left right Officials empty a ballot box at the start of counting in the first round of 2017 French presidential election, at a polling station in Tulle, central France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau 4/29 left right An official counts a ballot showing the name of Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, as the counting began for the first round of 2017 French presidential election, at a polling station in Tulle, central France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau 5/29 left right Marine Le Pen (L), French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, casts her ballot in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, April 23, 2017. At R, Mayor of Henin-Beaumont Steeve Briois. REUTERS/Charles Platiau 6/29 left right Emmanuel Macron (L), head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, casts his ballot in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer 7/29 left right Names of 2017 French presidential election candidates are seen printed during the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Paris, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau 8/29 left right Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, casts her ballot in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol 9/29 left right People line up to vote at a polling station in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Vaulx-en-Velin, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Emannuel Foudrot 10/29 left right French President Francois Hollande (L) arrives at a polling station to vote in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Tulle, central France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau 11/29 left right A policeman looks on a people participate in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Vaulx-en-Velin, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Emannuel Foudrot 12/29 left right Benoit Hamon, French Socialist party 2017 presidential candidate, leaves the polling booth as he votes in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Trappes, near Paris, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler 13/29 left right A woman leaves a polling booth as she votes in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Vaulx-en-Velin near Lyon, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot 14/29 left right David Rachline (R), mayor of Frejus and campaign director of Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, arrives at a polling station in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau 15/29 left right A woman prepares to cast her ballot to vote in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Trappes, near Paris, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler 16/29 left right People line up to vote in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Vaulx-en-Velin near Lyon, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot 17/29 left right A voter chooses ballots before voting in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Lyon, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Pratta 18/29 left right People choose their ballots before voting in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Lyon, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Pratta 19/29 left right Ballot envelopes and ballot papers are seen on a table at a polling station in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Lyon, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Pratta 20/29 left right A policeman secures the entrance of a polling station as people arrive to vote in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Henin-Beaumont, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol 21/29 left right A policeman stands near a polling station during the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Henin-Beaumont, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol 22/29 left right A policeman installs barriers near a polling station during the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Henin-Beaumont, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol 23/29 left right A voter casts his ballot at the polling station to vote in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Paris, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann 24/29 left right People line up to vote in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Vaulx-en-Velin near Lyon, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot 25/29 left right A voter prepares to vote in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Paris, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann 26/29 left right People choose their ballots before voting in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Lyon, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Pratta 27/29 left right People choose their ballots before voting in the first round of 2017 French presidential election at a polling station in Marseille, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Laurenson 28/29 left right An official checks her watch for the opening of a polling station during the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Marseille, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Laurenson 29/29 By Ingrid Melander and Pascale Antonie | PARIS

PARIS 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.

In a race that was too close to call up to the last minute, Macron, a pro-European Union ex-banker and economy minister who founded his own party only a year ago, was projected to get 24 percent by the pollster Harris and 23.7 percent by Elabe.

Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-EU National Front, was given 22 percent by both institutes. Three further pollsters all projected broadly similar results.

Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, opinion polls in the run-up to the ballot have consistently seen him winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen easily.

Defeated Socalist candidate Benoit Hamon urged voters to rally behind Macron in the second round, as did senior conservative lawmaker Francois Baroin from the camp of defeated right-wing candidate Francois Fillon.

Harris gave both Fillon and far-left contender Jean-Luc Melenchon 20 percent, which will mean their elimination from the race.

Fillon had consistently been polling third in surveys leading up to the election. French senator and key Fillon supporter Roger Karoutchi told reporters: "The first indications are not good."

The result, if confirmed, will mean a face-off between politicians with radically contrasting economic visions for a country whose economy lags that of its neighbors and where a quarter of young people are unemployed.

That in turn reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain's vote last June to quit the EU and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

Early indications from Reuters data showed the euro currency EUR= jumping to a four-week high around $1.09 in response to the early projections, from $1.0726.

Macron favors gradual deregulation measures that will be welcomed by global financial markets, while Le Pen wants to ditch the euro currency and possibly pull out of the EU.

Whatever the outcome on May 7, it will mean a redrawing of France's political landscape, which has been dominated for 60 years by mainstream groupings from the center-left and center-right, both of whose candidates faded.

Macron ally Gerard Collomb said the defeat of the mainstream center-left Socialists and the center-right Republicans showed a "deep malaise" in French society.

The final outcome on May 7 will influence France's standing in Europe and the world as a nuclear-armed, veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council and founding member of the organization that transformed itself into the European Union.

(Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Bate Felix and Michaela Cabrera in Paris and Ilze Filks in Henin-Beaumont; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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