So, there you have it — Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have emerged triumphant from Sunday’s first round of the French presidential election. Macron, the man the Guardian calls a “centrist” — when he isn’t (he was once the economy minister in Francois Hollande’s vividly unpopular socialist government) — and Le Pen, the National Front leader, secured 23.75 per cent and 21.53 per cent of votes respectively.
France has been split down the middle, both politically and geographically. The man who married his teacher — yes, Macron is married to his 64-year-old former drama coach — came top in the west while the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen dominated in the east.
He succeeded in towns and cities with more than 15,000 people, while she romped to electoral success in the countryside.
The former investment banker and anti-EU firebrand will now duel it out in the second and final round on May 7.
But Europe’s political and media mainstream have already chosen their favourite.
Angela Merkel’s spokesperson in Germany, Steffen Seibert, took to Twitter late Sunday night to state:
“Good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with his course for a strong EU + social market economy.”
The UK’s shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, said Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was backing Macron:
“Heading into the second round, we hope that the ultimate result will be a victory for the politics of optimism over the politics of division and fear.”
WATCH as I report on reaction from elsewhere in Europe, and on the riots that broke out after Sunday’s results came in.
AP reports that twenty-nine people were detained at the Bastille, where protesters brandished red flags and chanted, “No Marine and No Macron!” in anger.
Polls are suggesting that Macron will trounce Le Pen in the runoff — but where have we seen that before?