April 25, 2017 - 11:01 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - France's outgoing president, Francois Hollande, on Monday, April 24 urged people to back centrist Emmanuel Macron in a vote to choose his successor next month and reject far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose place in the run-off represented a "risk" for France, Reuters said.
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, who has never held elected office, 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 his former economy minister in a televised address, saying Le Pen's policies were divisive and stigmatized sections of the population.
"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."
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.
Surveys pointing to a clear Macron victory soothed investors who have been unnerved by Le Pen's pledges to ditch the euro, print money and possibly quit the EU. Many had feared another anti-establishment shock to follow Britain's "Brexit" vote and Donald Trump's election as U.S. president.