France is facing two weeks of what is set to be a bruising campaign over the country's future. Centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron will be facing the far-right Marine Le Pen for the presidency on April 24. Although he came top in the first round with around 27 percent, Macron told his supporters "nothing was decided".
"Over the next two weeks, let us spare no effort because nothing is done, let us be humble, determined, let us convince everybody, on April 24, we can make the choice of a new French and European era, on April 24, we can make the choice of hope, on April 24, we can make the choice for France and Europe together.", said the incumbent president to cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters in Paris.
His opponent, Marine Le Pen who got approximately 23 percent of the vote is known for her anti-immigration stance and has steadily gained support after campaigning hard on the cost of living crisis and inflation. "I will ensure national independence to make France a country of peace, declared the far-right candidate at her own campaign headquarters in the capital, I will bring back France's sovereignty in all areas, which means the freedom for the French people to decide for themselves and defend their interests. I will control immigration and re-establish security for all."
Veteran far-left agitator Jean-Luc Mélenchon finished narrowly behind Le Pen with around 21 percent of the vote and he now has the unlikely role of kingmaker."What do they take the French people for? They are capable of knowing what to do. They are capable of deciding what is good for the country. We will never lose our trust in democracy so, you must not give a vote to Mrs. Le Pen.", said M. Mélenchon repeating to not give 'a single vote to Marine Le Pen'.
The vote confirmed the decline of traditional parties as the Socialists and rightwing party Les Republicains. sank badly.
In 2017, Macron easily beat Le Pen in the second round. But this time Le Pen has the benefit of votes from far-right polemicist Eric Zemmour.