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

Defeated Socalist candidate Benoit Hamon urged voters to rally behind Macron in the second round, as did senior conservative lawmaker Francois Baroin.

French President Emmanuel Macron. Picture: AFP.

PARIS - Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are set to face each other in a 7 May 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% by the pollster Harris and 23.7% by Elabe.

Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-EU National Front, was given 22% 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.