Markets celebrate Macron victory in French elections

A day after mainstream parties were dealt a heavy defeat in the French presidential election, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, one of the two candidates to advance to a runoff, condemned the parties' calls to unite against her and support her rival, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron.

A look at regional voting differences showed that Ms. Le Pen's strength lies mainly along the Mediterranean coast, the part of France most heavily affected by immigration from Africa and the Middle East, while Mr. Macron's strength came in Paris and the north.

Marine Le Pen, French National Front political party leader, celebrates after early results in the first round of 2017 French presidential election, in Henin-Beaumont, France.

The European Parliament is expected to begin the process to lift the immunity of France's far-right presidential challenger Marine Le Pen on Wednesday for her alleged misuse of European Union funds, parliament officials said. Le Pen has denounced legal proceedings against her as political interference.

Ms le Pen said it was "perfectly feasible" to catch up the "10 little points" between her and Mr Macron. Similarly, traditionalist Roman Catholic organisations that backed Mr Fillon refused to endorse Mr Macron on Monday.

After the first round, financial markets jumped as prospects appeared to diminish of Le Pen taking France out of the euro and the European Union as she has promised to do.

The EU legislature lifted Le Pen's immunity in March in relation to a another French investigation over her posting of pictures of Islamic State violence on social media, an offence that in France can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($82,000). "The center is stronger than the populists think!"

Some noted a "deja-vu" with the "Bernie-or-Bust" movement in the United States, in which Bernie Sanders supporters "protested" the November presidential vote by joining the 40 percent of eligible voters who chose to stay home.

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon got 20.01%, and left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, 19.58% of the vote.

On the other hand, the voters clearly repudiated the French political establishment, represented by the Socialist and Republican parties that have traded presidencies in recent years. Many commentators expect the same fate for his daughter, but she has already drawn far more support than he ever did and she has transformed the party's once-pariah image.

He said a far-right president would "deeply divide France". German Chancellor Angela Merkel wished Macron "all the best for the next two weeks". "So she is in a truly bad position to be talking about the elites".

According to the three opinion polls published since Sunday evening, Macron would win with 62 or 64 percent of the vote, to Le Pen's 36 or 38. Fillon and Socialist BenoƮt Hamon both urged their supporters to vote for Macron.

There was major concern ahead of Sunday's vote of a low voter turnout, which a number of polling companies warned could reach a record 30 percent.

Protesters overnight burned cars, danced around bonfires and dodged riot police at the Place de la Bastille and Republique.

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