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Summary

  1. Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron will face far-right Marine Le Pen in a run-off on 7 May
  2. Mr Macron, a 39-year-old who has never fought an election before, tells jubilant supporters: "In one year, we have changed the face of French politics"
  3. Marine Le Pen called on "all patriots" to join her and "concentrate on what is essential - the survival of France"
  4. The beaten candidates from mainstream parties, Socialist Benoît Hamon and conservative François Fillon, declare support for Mr Macron

Live Reporting

By Laurence Peter, David Molloy and Nalina Eggert

All times stated are UK

Au revoir

Thanks for following our live coverage of the French presidential election. 

We are ending live coverage now, but you can still keep up with the latest developments on the BBC News website.

To recap: 

The decisive second round of the election, on 7 May, will be between liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron and nationalist leader Marine Le Pen.

Mr Macron, 39, heads a new movement called En Marche! ("On the Move"). He came top, with 23.75%, ahead of Ms Le Pen on 21.53%. He is the clear favourite to become president.

The result showed France deeply divided. Mr Macron stands for an open, free market economy and supports the EU. He dominated the vote in the cities.

Ms Le Pen is protectionist and wants to drastically cut immigration. She polled strongly in rural areas and struggling "rust belt" towns.

Don't forget June election

The French political system is presidential - so the president really is the country's top politician, wielding actual power.

But the president also has to appoint a prime minister who can command a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly - the lower house of parliament. 

That could be a problem for either Mr Macron or Ms Le Pen, because France holds National Assembly elections in June. The assembly is currently dominated by the Socialists (271 seats) and centre-right Republicans (193). 

The plans of a Macron or Le Pen presidency could come unstuck if French voters do not shake up the political system again in June. 

French National Assembly - file pic, 2016
AFP

Le Pen v Macron - contrasting visions

Sunday's vote has shown France to be deeply divided. The shock is that neither of the top two candidates represents the traditional establishment.

So what are the key differences between liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen?

  • Mr Macron, a former banker, backs the free market, calling for pro-business measures such as slashing corporation tax from 33.3% to 25%
  • Ms Le Pen is anti-globalisation - she vows to protect French jobs, condemning liberal policies that have left many workers struggling 
  • Mr Macron believes in the EU and wants reforms to make it more effective
  • Ms Le Pen condemns the EU, especially the Schengen open borders system - she wants to quit the euro, restoring the franc, and could offer an in/out referendum on EU membership
  • Mr Macron favours open borders, saying immigration is part of what makes a successful economy
  • Ms Le Pen wants to suspend immigration, introduce new measures to curb conservative Islam and deport radical Islamists

You can read more about what divides the candidates here.

Posters - Macron and Le Pen, 10 Apr 17
AFP

Macron took the big cities

Paris Match news magazine pulls out an interesting fact from the voting - Emmanuel Macron scored significantly better than Marine Le Pen in the big cities, notably Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon and Nantes.

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What does French result mean for Brexit?

Simon Jack

BBC Business Editor

Macron has been installed as the overwhelming favourite to be the next French president - but what does that mean for business, and Brexit?

For the bigger economic picture, a Macron win removes the chance of a political and economic shock to Europe's core.

Marine Le Pen's calls for France to leave the eurozone have been seen as an existential threat to the entire European project.

Macron's likely win has seen the French stock market and the euro surge as that threat is seen as receding.

Read more: What does French result mean for Brexit?

France 'will have to come together'

Margot Cadic is a student from Paris, currently studying in London. She voted for Mr Macron, but worries that "there won't be a huge gap between him and Le Pen" in the second round on 7 May.

"I didn't want Fillon to go through, because Macron has a better chance of beating Marine Le Pen. 

"It's a fascinating time. France will now have to come together and make a coalition," she told the BBC.

'Failure of Fillon' hit conservatives

Prof Raymond Kuhn, a French politics expert, says the election blow to the centre-right Republicans was largely a rejection of François Fillon, rather than the party itself.

Mr Fillon was hit by allegations that he misused public funds by giving family members "fake" jobs.

"Fillon wasn't too far short of the second round... It was more of a failure of Fillon than of the right," Prof Kuhn told BBC World TV.

 Ms Le Pen "won't have any chance of winning in the second round," he said.

"I think she'll get somewhere in the 30s - she'll get some Fillon supporters and a few Mélenchon [far left] supporters... France is a very divided society."

Francois Fillon, 23 Apr 17
EPA

Politics is 'messed up'

Brian Klaas, a politics researcher at the London School of Economics, tweets:

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Le Pen in "deeper hole" than Trump was, pollster says

Nate Silver says the statistics don't favour the National Front candidate.

Nate Silver, the editor of poll analytic website FiveThirtyEight, is rubbishing suggestions in the media that Marine Le Pen could - like Donald Trump and the Vote Leave camp in the Brexit vote - defy all the polls.

Journalists making that kind of remark are "innumerate", he says.

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The website has put together a long explanation of the hill that Marine Le Pen faces, titled "Marine Le Pen Is In A Much Deeper Hole Than Trump Ever Was".

"There aren’t all that many examples of a 26-point polling error, which is what Le Pen would need", Silver writes - with the caveat that two weeks is a long time in politics. 

'Neither Le Pen nor Macron'

This piece of graffiti which "says it all" has notched up several hundred retweets since last night.

It seems to have been scrawled on the monument at Place de la Republique in Paris, and reads:

"Ni patrie ni patron, ni Le Pen ni Macron"

Which translates as:

"Neither fatherland nor boss, neither Le Pen nor Macron" - an apparent reference to the respective nationalist and pro-business attitudes of the candidates.

The poetic rallying cry is being used on Twitter among those who say they will abstain from voting in the second round. 

View more on twitter

Le Pen attacks Macron on Islamists

The campaign is picking up pace again. Marine Le Pen has just lashed out at her rival Emmanuel Macron on the threat from jihadists.

Speaking in Pas de Calais region - a northern stronghold for her National Front (FN) - she said "I'm on the ground to meet the French people to draw their attention to important subjects, including Islamist terrorism, to which the least we can say Mr Macron is weak on".

"Mr Macron has no project to protect the French people in the face of Islamist dangers," Reuters quoted her as saying.

It is a very sensitive issue, after the bloody jihadist attacks that traumatised Paris in 2015, and the shooting of a policeman on the Champs Elysees on Thursday night.

Marine Le Pen in northern France, 23 Apr 17
EPA

Conservatives 'wiped out'

Le Figaro website
screenshot

French right-wing daily Le Figaro deplores the failure of the centre-right to reach the second round. Ex-Prime Minister François Fillon was "wiped out", it writes.

"The impossible has happened. The right, which has thrashed the Socialists in all elections in the past five years, the right, whose ideas and values have never been so deeply preponderant inside the country, this right whose victory seemed inevitable, was wiped out yesterday," it lamented. 

It remains to be seen how the next president will govern, however, as Mr Fillon's Republicans and the rival Socialists are the biggest groups in parliament.  

So the June parliamentary election could deliver another shock to French politics.

It will be a huge challenge for either Mr Macron or Ms Le Pen to get enough of their candidates elected to parliament.

Will Macron be like a US Democrat?

Liberation's take on the political shake-up

Liberation, a left-wing daily, says Mr Macron is in a position to forge a new centrist, democratic bloc in French politics - neither left nor right.

He could become like a US Democrat president, a commentary in the paper says.

But he was also urged by Barack Obama on Thursday to "fight until the last moment of the campaign", the paper reports.

That appears to be a veiled reference to Hillary Clinton's defeat in the US presidential election despite most observers expecting her to win. 

Le Monde warns Macron

The left-leaning daily Le Monde warns Emmanuel Macron in an editorial that he must still work hard to woo the many disillusioned voters.

The vote has been a shock to the French political system, it says, noting that the far-right National Front (FN) got more than 20% of votes for the first time in a presidential election.

Mr Macron also needs to take stock of the degree of social protest reflected in the strong vote for far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Le Monde says.

EU to figure strongly in decisive round

Eric Maurice, a political analyst at the euobserver website, predicts that the decisive second round will be a contest between the EU and the far-right. He says it will amount to a referendum.

Mr Macron, unlike Ms Le Pen, is a firm believer in the European project. 

"The prospect of Le Pen being beaten and the wave of anti-EU forces being contained in the bloc’s second biggest country sent sighs of relief in Europe," Maurice writes.

Read our profile of Emmanuel Macron, charting his meteoric rise.  

Emmanuel Macron, 15 Feb 16
AFP

Macron boost for European markets

Mr Macron's win in the first round sent European shares surging on Monday and the euro briefly reached five-month peaks, Reuters news agency reports. 

There appears to be market relief that another Brexit-like shock is not on the cards. 

The pan-European STOXX 50 index rose 3%, France's CAC40 almost 4% and bank stocks more than 6%. 

The STOXX Europe 600 index was also up more than 1.6%.

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Le Pen v Macron - strong regional trends

The results map below shows that Mr Macron (pink) dominated regions in the west and part of central France. Ms Le Pen (navy blue) polled strongly in the north-east and south-east.

The map has just been released by the interior ministry.

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'We want sovereignty back' - Le Pen aide

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Jérôme Rivière, a top adviser to Marine Le Pen, tells the BBC that it is now a battle between a pro-EU "open borders" candidate - Mr Macron - and Ms Le Pen, who speaks of restoring French sovereignty.

He told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "People are fed up... Macron is not talking about France, but about Europe only.

"We don’t like the EU, we want to gain our sovereignty back... all we have been saying is we want to go back to this Europe of nations."

He said the National Front would "protect our citizens from the massive flow of immigration, from the globalised economy".

"France has been hit very drastically, because of people that took advantage of open borders."

Read a full profile of Ms Le Pen.

Arrests in Paris clash after voting

'Anti-fascist' protesters were involved

After the result of the vote became clear on Sunday night clashes erupted in Paris between "anti-fascist" protesters and police. BFMTV reports 29 arrests, and minor injuries to six police officers and three protesters.

The leftist "anti-fascist" and "anti-capitalist" protesters were opposed to both Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen.

Police clash with protesters, 23 Apr 17
AFP

Latest results - interior ministry

The French Interior Ministry has published the first-round results, showing a turnout of 78.69% - that is, 36.4m voters. 

The percentages based on an almost complete count of the vote are:

  • Macron - 23.8%
  • Le Pen - 21.5%
  • Fillon - 19.9%
  • Mélenchon - 19.6%  
French interior ministry results
BBC

Silence from Mélenchon on backing Macron

Defeated first-round candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has yet to endorse Emmanuel Macron, as his other rivals have done - prompting comment from political reporters.

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Young and disillusioned backed Le Pen

Marine Le Pen successfully attracted many younger voters in depressed parts of France, hit by the impact of globalisation, says a leading French journalist and blogger, Anne-Elisabeth Moutet.

Speaking on BBC World TV, she said many of those voters in struggling "rust belt" areas used to vote for the left, including the Communists.

"They are like the Trump and Brexit voters - they feel that globalisation has treated them very badly," she said.

Those younger voters, she pointed out, have little awareness of the earlier history of Ms Le Pen's far-right National Front (FN).

Ms Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has convictions for Holocaust denial.

'We needed, desperately, something else'

Macron adviser speaks to the BBC

MEP Sylvie Goulard, during a press conference on 24 April, 2014
Getty Images

Sylvie Goulard, an MEP and adviser to Emmanuel Macron, has been speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Asked if, when things began, she thought Mr Macron would be the top contender at this stage, she said: “to be honest, no.”

“But we had the feeling that something new was absolutely necessary. The parties – the traditional ones – brought us where we are… we needed, desperately, something else.”

“At the beginning, Emmanuel was still at the government, but everyone knew he was not feeling at ease at all, because he could not have the impact he wanted.”

And when asked if the young candidate would really be the reformist he promises to be, she said: "Well, we hope – and I trust him.

“And not only France, but we really want to change Europe. We are at a turning point – after Trump’s election, with Putin, with Erdogan – it’s a global challenge.

“Either we stick to unilateral co-operation of states, or we go back to nationalism that will bring us nowhere.”

Macron v Le Pen - the story so far

Welcome to our live coverage of the French presidential election, a vote which saw the political establishment candidates knocked out. 

Two - Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen - will fight the decisive second round on 7 May. The main developments so far: 

  • Liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron won with 23.9% of the vote, slightly ahead of far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen with 21.4%, with nearly all votes counted
  • Mr Macron pledged to unite "patriots" behind his agenda to renew French politics and modernise the country, against Ms Le Pen and "the threat of nationalists"
  • Conservative former Prime Minister François Fillon was third, with 19.9%, narrowly ahead of far-left contender Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 19.6%
  • Turnout was forecast to be high, at nearly 78%
  • Opinion polls suggest that Mr Macron can beat Ms Le Pen in the second round by a wide margin

Celebrations in Macron camp
Getty Images
Celebrations in Macron camp

'New split' in France - Le Monde

Le Monde speaks of a new split in French society, after Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen defeated the traditional centre-left and centre-right blocks in the election.

An editorial in the left-leaning daily says the first-round result pits pro-EU, pro-business voters - Mr Macron's supporters - against protectionist, nationalist voters hostile to globalisation, who backed Ms Le Pen.

It is different from the old left-right divide. And voting trends in rural areas were also markedly different from the cities, it says.  

The backlash against globalisation was reflected in the strong anti-establishment vote.

Marine Le Pen (left) and Emmanuel Macron
Reuters
Marine Le Pen v Emmanuel Macron

A new adventure

French TV channel BFMTV's round-up of the French front pages on Monday morning, with all newspapers focusing on the left-right battle ahead in the second round - without either of the traditional political parties, the Republicans or the Socialists.

French newspaper front pages on Monday 24 April 2017
BFMTV

Latest official results

With 97% of votes counted, the two front-runners have maintained their shares of the ballot.

Chart showing election results
BBC

What are Macron's policies?

Thomas Fessy

BBC News, Paris

Emmanuel Macron is pragmatic - he says he wants to create a new kind of politics, breaking down the divisions between the traditional left and right. His manifesto blends liberal economic reforms with left-leaning policies on social issues. He wants to make it easier for companies to hire and fire staff, to lower taxes on businesses and extend the 35-hour week. Mr Macron also wants to extend unemployment benefits to more people, including the self-employed, to make education a top priority and to encourage a shift to renewable energy. 

He presents himself as an optimistic and pro-European candidate who wants to push for deeper integration. Political analysts have compared him to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair but his critics say he's all talk and no policies. 

At 39, Emmanuel Macron could become France's youngest president, but whether he could then secure a majority in parliament remains unclear. He has promised to select candidates from outside the political system - half of them women - for parliamentary elections in June.

Jean-Marie Le Pen is not jealous

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the former president of the Front National and Marine Le Pen's father, held an election night gathering at his Montretout estate in Paris's western suburbs. 

He told reporters that he was not jealous of his daughter's success. 

"Jealous? Me?" he said, according to French news site 20 Minutes.   

Jean-Marie Le Pen, former leader of the Front National
AFP
Jean-Marie Le Pen, former leader of the Front National

Asian markets react

The value of the euro jumped to a five-month high, following news of Emmanuel Macron's election success. 

In Asia, the euro was up 2% to its highest level since mid-November. 

Dean Turner, economist at UBS Wealth Management, said: There will be some relief among investors that a mainstream candidate made it through to the second round.As things stand, Macron is on course to be the next French president, so it is likely that we see a recovery in risk appetite toward French and other European markets."  

Markets react to French result

Le Pen celebrations in Marseille

Front National supporters in the south of France watched the election coverage with great anticipation. 

Stephane Ravier, mayor of a section of Marseille, was among them, and told the BBC how the party has changed. 

A night at a French Front National election party

Macron moves France into uncharted water

Hugh Schofield

BBC News, Paris

France is entering uncharted political water - and it is not because Marine Le Pen is in the final round of the presidential election.

It is because the next head of state is almost certain to be Emmanuel Macron.

Let us remind ourselves how preposterous this state of affairs would have seemed just a few months ago.

Here was a man who, at 39, had the gall to walk out of government - turning his back on his protector, President François Hollande - and set up his own political "movement".

He had no experience of electoral politics. He had no party backing. He had none of the organisational support of the Socialists, the Republicans or even the Front National.

And yet somehow Emmanuel Macron read the zeitgeist. He found an untapped reservoir of support among the young, the disillusioned-but-optimistic, the anti-cynics.

Read Hugh Schofield's full analysis

German view

Bild's front page sees Emmanuel Macron's lead in the first round as allowing Europe to breathe a sigh of relief

Front page of Monday's edition of German daily newspaper Bild
Bild

Macron's lead widens

The number of votes counted has reached 91% and Emmanuel Macron's margin of victory is now 23.5% to 22.08%. François Fillon is in third with 19.74% and far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 19.47%. 

The French TV projection published hours earlier by Ipsos/Sopros Steria (below) suggested Mr Macron's final margin would be around 2%.

Projected result
BBC

Russia stands by Le Pen

The chairman of the foreign relations committee of the Russian Lower House, Konstantin Kosachev, voiced support for Marine Le Pen in a Facebook post. Hope dies last, he says.

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Macron gives pre-presidential address

James Reynolds

BBC News, Paris

Emmanuel Macron, flanked by his wife Brigitte Trogneux, speaks after projected results suggest that he has won the first round of the elecion
Getty Images
Mr Macron, flanked by his wife Brigitte Trogneux, was cheered by supporters after his first-round success

At times, Emmanuel Macron’s campaign HQ felt like an extremely polite rave. 

During the long wait for the candidate to come and speak, loudspeakers played techno music. Volunteers holding French flags swayed and some chanted “Macron President". Most crammed towards the front to get a better look at their candidate. 

Mr Macron himself came on stage to cheers. 

But the campaign supporters inside the arena were not his main audience. His victory speech was a pre-presidential address, directed towards the rest of the country that did not vote for him. 

He was sober, sombre, and emotional only when he spoke of his wife’s support. After he left, the crowd drifted away. The DJ played Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire. In the street at night, as I waited to head back into central Paris, I saw no celebrations, no-one honking their car horns. There is still a second round to fight.

Socialist humiliation

Benoît Hamon reacts after delivering a speech at the Maison de la Mutualite in Paris, on April 23, 2017
AFP

With just over 6% of the vote, Benoît Hamon's score is the worst achieved by a centre-left candidate since 1969.

And like him the Socialist candidate in that year, Gaston Deferre, finished far behind a hard-left candidate - Communist Jacques Duclos - who won 21% in the first round.

The fact that Mr Hamon finished only marginally ahead of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a Eurosceptic outsider, is a humiliation for the Socialists who have spent the past five years running the country.

Le Pen's 'difficult run-off ahead'

Marine Le Pen (R) waves to supporters after the results of the first round of the French presidential elections in Henin-Beaumont,
EPA
Marine Le Pen is expected to finish with just under 22% of the vote

She may have qualified for the second round but Le Monde commentator Olivier Faye warns that her failure to win the first round has complicated the task she faces on 7 May.

He says she may have done better than she did in 2012, when she polled 17.9% of the vote, and better than her father in 2002, but for several years the opinion polls suggested she would win this first round, and she hasn't.

Macron: 'I hope to be your president'

Emmanuel Macron told supporters he hoped to be president for all patriots against the threat of nationalists

Political shake-up

It is the first time since France's presidential system was introduced in 1958 that neither the centre-right nor the socialist left make the second round of a presidential election.

It is also the best-ever score for a far-right party, with more than 7m votes.