PARIS, April 24. /TASS/. The founder of the "En Marche!" movement, former economic minister Emmanuel Macron, will face far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the runoff of the French presidential vote on May 7.
According to final results of the first round, Macron was declared winner, scoring 23.75% His opponent, Marine Le Pen, received 21.53% of the vote.
The two other politicians, who vied for a place in the second round but failed, are Francois Fillon (The Republicans) and Jean-Luc Melenchon (La France insoumise). They received 19.91% and 19.64%, respectively.
The founder of the "En Marche!" movement was among the last to make a public statement after the outcome of the vote became clear. He mentioned all other candidates, except Le Pen, by name and thanked them for an honest competition.
"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 beautiful answer by coming to the polling stations en masse," he said at his electoral headquarters in Paris on Sunday evening. "They (the people) decided to put me to the first place in the first round of this vote, and I appreciate the honor and great responsibility that was bestowed on me."
He described the vote as a milestone in France’s political history.
"The people of France rejected the candidates from the two major parties that ruled the country in the past 30 years," he said.
He also thanked Fillon and Hamon for the support that they had expressed for his candidacy, after admitting their defeat.
"Right now, friends, we need to make France even more united to win two weeks later and rule our country," Macron added. "Starting from tomorrow, I will launch a campaign to unite all citizens of France."
The politician, who styled himself as a progressive leader who is "neither left nor right," vowed to create a broad coalition of "progressive forces" to run in the June parliamentary polls.
"The people of France voted to see a renewal, and from now on we will be guided by the policy of unions, and will continue doing so until the parliamentary polls. We think that the most important thing now is to continue working in order to get the broadest majority possible and unite all progressive forces," he said.
Shortly after first results were made public, many prominent figures in the ruling Socialist party expressed their support to the party’s former member. Benoit Hamon of the Socialists, who is ranked fifth with some 6.3%, called on his supporters to vote for Macron.
"I call on you to do your best to fight with (Marine Le Pen’s) National Front and the far right forces, I urge you to vote for Emmanuel Macron," Hamon said, admitting that his party suffered "a crushing defeat" in this year’s elections.
Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has also called on French voters to support Macron.
"This evening, the presence of the far right candidate in the runoff, 15 years after the shock of the 2002 election, necessitates that all supporters of Republicans take a clear and firm stance. This is why I call on to vote for Emmanuel Macron in the runoff, to defeat the National Front," he said.
French President Francois Hollande, in his turn, has phoned Macron to congratulate him on his success at 20:15 local time Sunday, AFP reported. The outgoing leader, however, is yet to make an official comment on the result of the vote.
More than 7.65 million of French citizens supported far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential elections, which is the all-time record for her party. For comparison, Le Pen received 6.4 million of votes in the first round of the 2012 polls, when she scored third.
When her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, showed his best electoral result in 2002 and made it into the runoff to face Jacques Chirac, he received 4.8 million votes in the first round and 5.5 million in the second.
"We are going into the runoff," Le Pen said during an election rally in the Henin-Beaumont commune of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France.
"The first step of the people of France on their way to the Elysee Palace was made. This is a historic result, and now I’ve been vested with great responsibility to defend the French nation, its unity, its security and its culture," she went on.
She urged the citizens of France to support her in the second round of the presidential elections by casting the ballot against what she called "uncontrolled globalization."
"The idea of this election is to say "no" to uncontrolled globalization," she said.
Francois Fillon of the Republicans, who failed to overcome the fallout of numerous scandals in which he was involved, won 19.91%, which turned out to be not enough to make it into the second round. It was the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic that his party will not take part in the runoff.
While admitting his defeat, Fillon assumed full responsibility for the failure, calling on his allies to stay united in the run-up to the parliamentary campaign, which begins right after the presidential polls.
"Despite my best effort, I failed to convince the people of France. This is my defeat. But I urge you to stay united to protect our values during the parliamentary polls. The voice of the right must be heard," Fillon said.
At the same time, he added that he will not support Le Pen in the runoff.
"We need to choose what is more preferable for our country. Abstaining from the vote is not in my genes, especially when an extremist party may win power," he said. "In these conditions, there is no other choice but to vote against the far right, so I will vote for Emmanuel Macron."
The leader of the La France insoumise (Unsubmissive France) political movement, Jean-Luc Melenchon, who gathered nearly the same amount of vote as Fillon, opted not to speak in favor of any of the candidates.
Speaking before his supporters on Sunday, he said he would not admit his defeat in the first round until the official result is announced.
"We will accept them with respect, but I will not make any statement until the official results are published," he said.
Once published, the official result is yet to be approved by the republic’s Constitutional Council within a week.
The runoff campaign, in which Macron will face Le Pen, will kick off Monday and culminate on May 7 to determine who will become France’s 25th president.