90 Miles From Tyranny : Macron, Le Pen advance to France runoff

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Macron, Le Pen advance to France runoff

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen advanced to the presidential runoff, after major opponents conceded defeat Sunday.

For the first time in modern French history, no mainstream party candidate is advancing, upending the country’s political system.

Voters will choose May 7 between Macron, a former investment banker and ex-economy minister, and Le Pen, who has tried to scrub her National Front party of its history of racism and anti-Semitism.

France’s prime minister has called on voters to support centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron against far-right rival Marine Le Pen in the country’s presidential election.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called for the defeat of Le Pen’s National Front party in comments just after polling agencies projected the two advancing to the presidential runoff.

Amid heightened security, French voters cast ballots for their next president Sunday in a first-round poll that’s being seen as a litmus test for the future of Europe and the spread of populism around the world.

More than 50,000 police and gendarmes were deployed to protect 66,000 polling stations for Sunday’s election, which comes just three days after a deadly attack on Paris’s famed Champs-Elysees Avenue in which a police officer and a gunman were slain. Another 7,000 soldiers are on patrol.

The presidential poll is the first ever to be held while France is under a state of emergency, put in place since the November 2015 attacks in Paris left 130 people dead.

Voters choose between 11 presidential candidates in the most unpredictable contest in generations. The current president, Socialist Francois Hollande, is not among them, having decided that his historic unpopularity would hurt his party’s cause.

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