Closed French presidential election results – live

  • Macron and Le Pen progress through to the second and final round
  • Macron tops the polls with 23.9 % of the vote; Le Pen secures 21.4%
  • Markets react positively as Macron is heavily tipped to become next French president
  • Take a look at the FT’s poll tracker
  • For further coverage of the French presidential elections click here

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the outcome of the first round of the 2017 French presidential election.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are set to face each other in a run-off in May, after a nail biting first round on Sunday which resulted in independent centrist Mr Macron emerging as the frontrunner with 23.9 per cent of the vote ahead.

Ms Le Pen, the far-right leader, secured 21.4 per cent according to figures from the French interior ministry.

Here’s a look at the homepages of France’s biggest newspapers, who are simply letting French readers digest the outcome of the contest after tight polling last week suggested several combinations of potential winners.

Le Figaro:

Le Monde:

Les Echos:

And from Libération – which looks at the fallout for Republican candidate François Fillon, whose failure to make it through the first round they describe as a ‘shipwreck’:

Despite tight polling, the Macron-Le Pen result was generally regarded the most likely outcome. Analysts at Nomura said the first round results “threw the market no surprises.” They add:

Emmanuel Macron has come first and Marine Le Pen has come second in round one of the two-part Presidential election. But as Ms Le Pen has a 25% or so polling deficit to Mr Macron for the second round in two weeks’ time (which is more than three times the typical margin of error) the market will likely fully price in the outcome of the second round today in favour of Mr Macron.

We interpret the outcome as market positive and expect 10yr Bunds to sell off at least ~5bp

The euro, which rose 2 per cent to hit a five-month high of €1.0935 against the dollar in early Asian trading, is now at €1.0863. UBS agrees that a Macron win looks more likely in May which is likely to soothe investors at the start of this week:

Although a Le Pen win cannot be ruled out, current polls suggest that Macron is well placed to become president. We therefore cut our estimate of the probability of a Le Pen victory from 40% to 25%.

This first-round result is likely to be judged favorably by global markets, given Le Pen’s lower chance of winning and the elimination of left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon…..Investor risk appetite looks set to improve when European markets open.

Nevertheless, risks remain. Analysts at UBS added that Le Pen could yet carry the day in May if she chooses to “[tone] down her anti-EU message” and focus on national security before then, especially given the recent attack on police in Paris.

She could “also benefit if many mainstream voters stay home, and her highly motivated supporter base heads to the polls.”

This underlines a crucial issue in determining the second round: turnout. To recap: turnout in round one was 77 per cent, according to initial estimates by Ipsos/Sopra Steria – above the 71.6 per cent of 2002 but lower than the 79.5 per cent recorded in 2012 at the previous election.

Opinions are divided as to how turnout will help individual candidates but it is generally believed that the lower it is, the higher the chance of victory for Ms Le Pen.

Here are the final results in the first round of voting for all 11 candidates via the French Interior Ministry’s website.

Best session for euro in more than 10 months

Our colleague Mehreen Khan on FastFT writes that the euro is enjoying its best daily climb against the dollar since last June as markets breathe a heavy sigh of relief in the wake of France’s first round presidential election which came in as pollsters predicted.

The single currency is up 1.37 per cent against the dollar to its strongest level since last November this morning at $1.0872 – according to data from Bloomberg – marking its best daily climb since June 3 last year before the Brexit vote rattled markets.

François Fillon, who took 19.9 per cent of the vote, has thrown his weight behind Mr Macron.

“In spite of all my efforts, in spite of my determination, I have not succeeded. The obstacles in my way were too numerous,” he said following his defeat.

Republican Mr Fillon was once the favourite but his campaign has been overshadowed since the beginning of the year by allegations of embezzlement.

It is a crushing humiliation – his failure to progress marks the first time in the history of the French Republic (ie 1958) that a candidate from a main party has not made it to the run-off.

Vive la République, vive la France….meanwhile Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the hard-left firebrand who surged in the polls in the final weeks of the campaign, has not provided any endorsement after he won 19.6 per cent of the vote.

His late-stage surge in the polls had caused some disquiet as voters and investors were forced to consider the possibility of a run-off between two candidates each at the far end of the political spectrum.

French bonds enjoy best day in 4 months. . .

The markets have welcomed the fact that Macron has emerged as the front-runner to be the next president of France, sending 10-year government bond yields tumbling – their best daily rally in over four months, reports Mehreen Khan of FastFT.

. . . and demand for German Bunds cools

The French bond rally has conversely cooled investor demand for German Bunds. Benchmark 10-year German bond yields are up over 6bps this morning to 0.34 per cent – close to a month high.

Le Monde have produced a fantastic map showing how various candidates have performed across France:

The key takeaway? As predicted Ms Le Pen has done extremely well in France’s economically depressed northeast – the French ‘rust belt’ – a region which has garnered numerous comparisons with the Midwest states in the US which helped carry Donald Trump to victory. Ms Le Pen has taken at least 30 per cent of the vote in much of this area, whose inhabitants face an uncertain future following the decline of the coal and steel industries.

For the full interactive map on the Le Monde website, click here.

They included towns like Henin-Beaumont, which FT Paris bureau chief Anne-Sylvaine Chassany recently visited. You can watch her film of that visit here.

Good result for the pollsters

Apart from the two winning candidates it has also been a good first round for the French pollsters following a number of recent spectacular failures – think Brexit and the US presidential election.

This is what the FT’s poll tracker was predicting for the first round:

Macron – the lone reformer

Nicolas Colins, a former French civil servant and co-founder of investment firm TheFamily, points out that as a young, progressive reformer, Macron may have some things in common with similar figures such as Bill Clinton or Tony Blair, but one thing he doesn’t have is a major political party behind him.

There is a major difference, however, which is that Mr Macron is running on his own, without the support of a major party. Unlike Mr Clinton in the 1992 US presidential election, he did not bother to compete in a primary and test his ideas in a competitive race. And unlike Mr Blair from 1994 onwards, when he assumed the leadership of the UK Labour party, he did not set about reforming an entire party in order to prove to sceptical voters that he was able also to reform the country. Quite the contrary: the problems of President François Hollande convinced Mr Macron to cut his ties with the ruling Socialist party.

Read the full piece here.

French stocks rally

The French blue chip index, the CAC 40, has joined the wider market rally, jumping 4 per cent at the open, led by the banks.

The other French election, and why it matters

As if two big election days weren’t enough….there will be more: French parliamentary elections are in June. (And there will also be two rounds for these.)

For an international audience not enthralled with every twist and turn of French politics on the domestic stage it is easy to largely ignore this contest, partly because of the power accorded to the incumbent of the Élysée Palace and partly due to sheer election fatigue. But you shouldn’t.

Put simply, whoever becomes president may find they have a substantial opposition on their hands come the summer. There are 577 seats for grabs and the outcome of this election matters more than ever when French politics has become so fragmented, and with a relative newcomer poised to become president whatever the outcome.

Analysts at Barclays have some interesting things to say on this:

[We] believe the Parliamentary elections will carry more weight than usual, possibly even more than the Presidential election, but the outcome remains uncertain.

In light of the statements from senior political figures – particularly from the Republicans, which is the only party in the top four to have a strong local base – parties appear to be intent on pursuing their own parliamentary campaigns, which might suggest that whoever wins the second round run-off will face a substantial opposition, even if that is Mr Macron.

This would reinforce our view that a hung parliament is an increasingly likely prospect.

They add that Mr Fillon’s Republican party is set to discuss its strategy soon, a plan which may include co-operation with Mr Macron.

French front pages

We took a look at some of the home pages of the main French dailies a bit earlier. Here are the front pages from three of the newspapers:

Meanwhile, in Berlin….

You can almost hear the sighs of relief.

Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Angela Merkel, has tweeted wishing Emmanuel Macron “all the best for the next two weeks”.

He said it was good that the centrist’s commitment “to a strong EU and social market economy was successful.”

Mr Macron wants to foster greater co-operation in Europe: “We need to believe in Europe, love Europe, breathe Europe,” he told a recent campaign rally. However Ms Le Pen wants to ditch the euro and potentially hold a ‘Frexit’ referendum on French membership of the EU.

Status Quo or no?

The FT’s Paris bureau chief, Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, has analysed what is at stake in the head-to-head showdown between Macron and le Pen on May 7. It should be noted that all the modelling by pollsters – who very accurately predicted result of the first round – suggests Macron will easily defeat Le Pen in the final and second round.

The French presidential election has turned into a binary contest between two political outsiders, one a staunch defender of the postwar liberal order and the other a fierce populist intent on tearing it down. These opposing forces place France at the heart of a faultline running through western democracies.

Read the full piece here.

More support for Macron, this time from Brussels.

Margaritis Schinas, the EU Commission spokesman, said that President Jean-Claude Juncker had “congratulated Mr Macron” and “wished him luck for the rest”:

Mr Macron’s success was welcomed with relief in Germany as a victory against populism and a boost for the EU, including the future of the key Franco-German partnership, writes the FT’s Stefan Wagstyl in Berlin.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s officials led the way in greeting the result as good for Berlin as well as Paris.

Peter Altmaier, Ms Merkel’s chief of staff, said on Twitter: “the result for Emmanuel Macron shows France and Europe can win together. The centre is stronger than the populists believe.”

Meanwhile Dieter Kempf, head of the BDI industry group, said:

France has backed a pro-European politician as its leading candidate. That’s good. In the run-off, the French must now make a clear decision – for or against Europe, for or against a return into national [ways of thinking].

Nick Clegg has said that if Emmanuel Macron wins, the EU could become more confident – and that could be “a good thing” in forthcoming Brexit talks.

The FT’s George Parker writes that the Liberal Democrat and former deputy prime minister told the BBC’s Today programme that a revitalised Franco-German partnership could lead to “some pretty unsentimental thinking” about the UK in Paris and Berlin and a determination that they would not strike a Brexit deal “at any cost”.

European banking stocks rally

FastFT’s Nicholas Megaw reports that the French stock market rally led by the banks has spread around the eurozone:

French banks aren’t the only ones feeling relieved after Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the first round of the French presidential election, with banks across the eurozone enjoying their best day of trading in more than a year.

The eurozone-wide Euro Stoxx Banks Index rose 6.1 per cent in early trading, hitting its highest level since December 2015 and putting it on track for its biggest one-day rise since last April.

More than 9.8m potential voters abstained from Sunday’s vote, according to the latest information from the interior ministry, which works out at 21.31 per cent of the electorate.

This is not far off turnout at the 2012 election – but compared to where polls were right at the last minute it is quite something. As the FT’s Anne-Sylvaine Chassany reported, almost 30 per cent of voters were still unsure whether they would vote on Friday.

Socialists in state of ‘decomposition’, says Valls

Manuel Valls, a former Socialist prime minister, has a pretty brutal assessment of the state of his party after its candidate, Benoît Hamon, polled just 6%.

“We are in a phase of decomposition, demolition, deconstruction,” said Valls. “We didn’t do the work – intellectual, ideological and political – on what the left is, and we paid the price.”

Bear in mind the Socialist party holds a majority in the legislature and has the incumbent François Hollande in the Élysée Palace, the most unpopular French president in modern French history.

Valls became one of the most high-profile political figures to endorse Macron’s presidential bid when he backed him in March. The two men are pictured below talking to each other in 2016 when they were both in government (Valls is on the right).

Can Marine Le Pen win?

The reaction of the euro and commentary from investors this morning suggests most think not, but turnout in the second round will be key.

In 2012 Marine Le Pen secured 6.4m votes, or 17.9 per cent of votes cast. This was not enough to get her a place in the run-off.

This time round she won 21.5 per cent with 7.6m people voting for her. Mr Macron secured 8.4m votes.

The key question now is who will supporters of other candidates back in two weeks?

For Macron, things are looking positive. Rival François Fillon – who gained just over 7m votes in the first round – has endorsed him. Moreover, before Sunday, some were unconvinced whether Macron’s support in the polls would translate into tangible electoral success, doubts which will now be dispelled.

We may not be heading for an exact re-run of 2002, when Ms Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the Front National, got through to the run-off before opponent Jacques Chirac won in a landslide. But it looks tough for Le Pen from here.

Bookmaker William Hill has put the odds of Emmanuel Macron becoming France’s next president at 88 per cent.

German blue-chip index hits all-time high

It may be a French election but the reaction to the pro-EU Macron emerging from the first round as the strong favourite to win the race for the Élysée Palace is spreading across the eurozone.

Germany’s Dax index hit an all-time high on Monday, reports FastFT’s Nicholas Megaw, further boosted by Ifo business confidence index hitting a new six-year high this month.

French stocks hit post-crisis high

Not to be outdone by their German neighbours, investors continue to pile into French shares and have sent the CAC-40 blue-chip index up more than 4.2% to a new post-financial crisis high.

Since the results emerged last night Emmanuel Macron has been enthusiastically tweeting.

“The task will be immense,” he told his followers. “I am ready, at your side.”

“I want to be a president who protects, who helps those who have less.”

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen has wasted no time this morning in hitting the streets in Pas-de-Calais, a region in which she scored strong support.

“After our party in Hénin-Beaumont, I am on the march this morning…..before victory on May 7!” she said.

France divided between east and west

The map speaks for itself

It has not been a good night for the Socialist Party….map courtesy of AFP:

Here’s a snap of Macron leaving his home in Paris a bit earlier surrounded by security

EU officials break with tradition

Pierre Moscovici, the French EU Commissioner for economics, has said that Europe must do “everything” to ensure that Marine Le Pen receives as few votes as possible in the second round of the French elections, adding that the election offers France a “referendum” on its membership of the European Union.

Throwing aside convention to publicly back Emmanuel Macron, Moscovici warned against the “frightening” vote share obtained by Marine Le Pen in the first round, and said the election gives the French people “a clear choice” between “a France at the heart of Europe, and a France without Europe”.

Moscovici (pictured below) was not the first senior Commission official to break with tradition and comment on a member state’s domestic political situation. On Sunday night, when it became clear that Macron was the front-running, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, was quick to congratulate the pro-EU politician.

The president of the European Jewish Congress has expressed dismay at Marine Le Pen making it through to the second round of the election.

Moshe Kantor said it is “extremely regrettable that more than one in five French voters voted for Le Pen”.

“We call on all democrats to rally together to prevent Madame Le Pen from winning in the second round which would be a prize for extremism and intolerance and a dark day for France,” he added.

Earlier this month Ms Le Pen came under fire after she denied that the French state was responsible for the wartime round-up of Jews who were subsequently deported to Nazi concentration camps.

How will the French vote in the second round?

Using data collected after the polls closed on Sunday night, Harris, the pollster, has put together the graphic below showing how it expects those who backed the third, fourth and fifth placed candidate in the first round to vote in two weeks time.

Brussels defends its position to back Macron

The FT’s Paul McClean reports from Brussels that the European Commission has defended its decision to publicly back Emmanuel Macron after his victory in the first round of the French elections, saying the election offered a choice between “those who defend what Europe represents, and those who aim to destroy it.”

“France is a central pillar of the EU, said Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesman at the European Commission on Monday afternoon. “It incarnates and symbolises those values on which European integration is based. Mr Juncker congratulated Mr Macron on the results because he is the candidate who represents those values which he campaigned for.”

The move to back Mr Macron was seen as unusual, given that the Commission rarely intervenes in national elections. But Mr Schinas said “the stakes were high, and the choice was a fundamental one.”

He said the Commission will not be campaigning for any candidate, but added it has “a number of tools at our disposal which allow us to clarify matters and debunk Euro myths and counter truths.”

Despite its backing for the pro-EU candidate, the Commission ruled out taking a side in the upcoming UK general election. “In the context of the French presidential campaign, there were not many choices – the choice was simple, straightforward,” said Mr Schinas. “In the UK, it’s not for us, but the sovereign British people.”

US markets set to join global rally

US stock-index futures roared higher on Monday, suggesting Wall Street was poised to join a global market rally as investors breathed a sigh relief after the first leg of the French election, reports FastFT’s Adam Samson in New York.

With less than two hours ahead of the opening bell in New York, S&P 500 futures climbed 1.1 per cent to 2,373, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gained 1 per cent to 20,703 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced by the same margin to 5,498.

Global markets got a lift on the day as investors speculated that centrist Emmanuel Macron will beat far-right Marine Le Pen in next month’s run-off , following the results of the first round vote on Sunday.

“With Macron heavily favoured in head-to-head polling against Le Pen, it seems most likely that the negative market scenarios – priced in over recent weeks – will recede between now and the run-off,” said Timothy Graf, head of macro strategy EMEA, at State Street Global Markets.

And on that note, we are going to wrap up our live coverage.

French voters who are still undecided will now have two weeks to weigh whether they will back Marine Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron, two candidates who offer radically different programmes for France.

Thanks for joining us.