France: Macron to face Le Pen in presidential runoff election on May 7
Paris : Social-liberal Emmanuel Macron will face far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in a run-off for the French presidency on May 7, according to election officials.
With 90 per cent of the ballots counted from Sunday's first round, Macron has garnered 23.5 per cent of the vote, while Le Pen has 22.08 per cent, Efe news reported.
In third place is conservative Francois Fillon with 19.75 per cent just ahead of leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon with 19.45 per cent.
In fifth place, far behind the four most popular candidates, is socialist Benoit Hamon, with 6.2 per cent of the votes, followed by Gaullist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan with about 5 per cent, just over the threshold needed for a candidate to have his campaign costs reimbursed by the national government.
Macron, 39, a former Economy Minister, is vying to become France's youngest-ever president, while Le Pen, 48, the leader of National Front is intent on becoming the first woman to lead France.
Although his opponents tried to paint him as the heir of unpopular French President Francois Hollande, it appears that Macron - with his fresh image and proposal to "unblock" antiquated elements of French society - has struck a positive chord among voters.
Macron pulled his support from retirees, working people and independents, garnering about 25 percent of each group's votes, according to the Ipsos polling firm.
He also managed to garner 24 per cent of college graduates as well as the support of 32 per cent of voters in households earning more than 3,000 euros (about $3,300) per month.
Le Pen, meanwhile, lost the lead she had enjoyed among the youngest voters, who inclined toward Melenchon drawing the votes of 30 per cent of citizens aged 18-24.
She received her support from people who have trouble making it to the end of the month on their salaries (43 per cent), those who feel that the next generation will have a lower living standard (25 per cent) and those with the lowest incomes (32 per cent), among others.