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Macron and Le Pen head to a runoff in France's presidential election

A person takes ballots before voting for the first round of the French presidential election, on Sunday in Le Touquet, northern France.
Thibault Camus
/
AP
A person takes ballots before voting for the first round of the French presidential election, on Sunday in Le Touquet, northern France.

Updated April 10, 2022 at 4:44 PM ET

President Emmanuel Macron and the far right's Marine Le Pen won Sunday's vote and will face off in the April 24 presidential runoff that will offer voters two sharply contrasting visions of France.

Sunday's vote is a repeat of the results five years ago, when the two faced off in a runoff vote. In 2017, however, Macron easily won the runoff by attracting two out of three ballots cast. This time, Le Pen attracted a much higher percentage with 23.3% of the vote, according to exit polls. Macron has 28.1%.

Sunday's results reflect work by Le Pen to soften her nationalist image, appearing much more moderate by using language to unite rater than divide voters. She no longer advocates leaving the European Union because French voters have voiced support for the political and economic union.

Le Pen works to soften her image

Le Pen focused on the economy and French residents' purchasing power, a strategy that paid off because that was the French peoples No. 1 concern, even ahead of the war in Ukraine.

Having the far-right Eric Zemmour to her right as a political opponent also made Le Pen seem more moderate.

Macron essentially didn't run a campaign because he announced his candidacy very late and then he was occupied with the Russia-Ukraine war. He was criticized for not having to stand up and defend his record and refusing to debate. Many voters appeared to be put off by Macron, considering him arrogant and distanced from the people.

Still, several of the defeated candidates have urged their supporters not to vote for Le Pen, saying it would throw France into chaos.

Le Pen has expressed a desire to pull France out of NATO. Le Pen has also voiced plans to reduce France's contributions to the European Union.

Concerning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Macron strongly supports European Union sanctions on Russia while Le Pen has expressed concern about sanctions' impact on French living standards. Macron also is a firm supporter of NATO and of close collaboration among the European Union's 27 members.

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