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World's reaction to France's presidential election

The two contenders will progress to the second round of the French presidential election on May 7. IN photo: Eiffel Tower lit in France's tricolor flag. Photograph: (Zee News Network)

AFP Paris, France Apr 23, 2017, 10.22 PM (IST)

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Sunday emerged as the projected winners of a nail-biting first round presidential vote in France.

The likely result clears the way for a straight two-way fight between the pair in a second and final round on May 7, with opinion polls saying Macron is the favourite.

Here are some of the first reactions to Sunday's vote:

European Union 

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated the pro-EU Macron after projections showed him ahead in the first round and wished him "good luck" in the run-off.

"To see the flags of #France and the EU greet the result of @emmanuelmacron, it's the hope and future of our generation," tweeted EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister.

Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief negotiator on Britain's withdrawal from the EU, hinted at concerns that Le Pen could lead France away from the bloc.

"Patriot and European, I will put my trust in Emmanuel Macron on May 7. France must remain European," the Frenchman tweeted.

Germany 

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman wished Macron "all the best for the next two weeks".

"It's good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with his course for a strong EU and social market economy," Steffen Seibert said in a tweet.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel predicted that the 39-year-old Macron would be the next president of France.

"I'm sure he will sweep away the far-right, right-wing populism and the anti-Europeans in the second round," Social Democrat Gabriel said in a video posted on Twitter during a trip to Jordan's capital Amman.

Writing on Twitter, he added: "I'm glad that @EmmanuelMacron is leading the field. He was the only truly pro-European candidate."

Britain 

Former Conservative finance minister George Osborne, recently appointed editor of London's Evening Standard newspaper, hailed a good result for the centre.

"Congratulations to my friend @EmmanuelMacron. Proof you can win from the centre. At last, the chance for the leadership that France needs," he tweeted.

Denmark 

Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen expressed cautious optimism that former banker Macron would emerge victorious over Le Pen.

"Congratulations @EmmanuelMacron. We should await the final election, but Europe needs an openminded and reform oriented France => Good luck!"

Norway 

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, whose country is not a member of the European Union, tweeted: "We need more not less cooperation in #Europe. Positive that @EmmanuelMacron is projected to win first round of #franceelections.

The Netherlands 

Geert Wilders, Dutch MP and leader of the anti-Islam anti-immigrant Freedom Party, swung behind Le Pen, welcoming the result as a "bright day for patriots in France and elsewhere who want more national sovereignty and less EU and immigration.

"I have just sent her my sincere congratulations. Now on the way to a vigorous second round, I am hoping for a President Le Pen."

(AFP)

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