Outgoing French President Francois Hollande on Monday urged people to back centrist Emmanuel Macron and reject far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the vote to choose his successor next month.
In a televised address, Hollande described Le Pen’s place in the presidential run-off as posing a “risk” for France, Reuters reports.
“The presence of the far right in the second round is a risk for the country,” he said. “What is at stake is France’s make-up, its unity, its membership of Europe and its place in the world.”
Macron and Le Pen, leader of the National Front (FN), go head-to-head on May 7 after taking the top two places in Sunday’s first round.
Opinion polls indicate that the business-friendly Macron will take at least 61 percent of the vote against Le Pen after two defeated rivals pledged to back him to thwart her eurosceptic, anti-immigrant platform.
Hollande, a Socialist nearing the end of five years of unpopular rule, threw his weight behind Macron, saying Le Pen’s policies were divisive and stigmatized sections of the population.
Global markets reacted with relief to Sunday’s vote, which broke the dominance of established parties of the center-left and center-right but still left the most market-friendly and internationally minded of the remaining contenders in pole position to become France’s next leader.
The euro touched five-month peaks while Europe’s STOXX 600 index rose 2 percent.
Investors had earlier been unnerved by Le Pen, who had pledged to ditch the euro, print money and possibly quit the EU.
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