Macron, Le Pen head to presidential runoff
France's centrist President Emmanuel Macron will face far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in a presidential runoff on April 24.
The interior ministry says with 97 percent of the votes counted in Sunday's presidential election, Macron won 27.6 percent of the ballots and Le Pen 23.41 percent.
A major campaign issue was how to deal with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Macron gained support for his efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement and leading the European Union's talks on sanctions against Russia.
Le Pen narrowed Macron's lead in the final stage of the election campaign.
She criticized the government's handling of surging prices, and pledged to take economic measures and raise people's living standards.
Macron said after the preliminary results were announced that he wants a France that is part of a strong Europe, and that continues to forge alliances with major democracies. He urged people to support him in the runoff.
Le Pen expressed her determination to regain France's sovereignty and people's freedom to make decisions on their own. She repeated her stance that France will keep a certain distance from the EU.
Other candidates, including Valerie Pecresse of the Republicans party, voiced their support for Macron. But far-right critic Eric Zemmour called on people to vote for Le Pen.
The previous runoff in 2017 was also held between Macron and Le Pen.
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