French election: Global reaction to Macron-Le Pen race

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Emmanuel Macron hold his hands up in a "peace sign" gesture with the French and EU flags visible in the foregroundImage source, Getty Images
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Emmanuel Macron's strong pro-Europe stance brought him much support from EU leaders

After a night that saw the final two candidates for the French presidency emerge, world leaders and analysts have been giving their reaction.

Emmanuel Macron will take on Marine Le Pen in a run-off election on 7 May.

The candidates stand starkly divided on many issues, not least the future of the EU and France's place in it.

Mr Macron supports closer EU integration, while Ms Le Pen is highly critical of the bloc and wants a referendum on France's membership.

The candidates have received a divided response from their political peers abroad.

In Europe

Mr Macron gave his victory speech standing in front of both the French and EU flags - and the reaction from European leaders has been predictably pro-Macron.

Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, sent "hearty congratulations" to Macron, hoping for "an optimistic and forward-looking European project".

His counterpart in the Czech Republic, Bohuslav Sobotka, said Macron's success "is a great hope for all who are sick and tired of nationalism, extremism and populism".

Michel Barnier, a French Republican who also happens to be the EU's chief negotiator with Britain on any Brexit deal, said he would be backing Mr Macron, as a "patriot and European".

Image source, Twitter
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The EU's foreign policy chief was impressed by Macron's use of the EU flag alongside the French

The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the Macron campaign was "the hope and the future of our generation".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson said it was good that the strong EU candidate had been so successful, and wished Mr Macron the best for the next two weeks until the run-off election.

Her foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said Mr Macron was the only "truly pro-EU candidate".

George Osborne, the UK MP and former treasurer turned newspaper editor, sent his congratulations to his "friend", Emmanuel Macron. "Proof you can win from the centre. At last, the chance for the leadership that France needs," he wrote.

His political opponent, former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband urged people to "not panic too much" over Mr Osborne's tweet. "I also met him [Macron] once," he wrote.

Image source, Twitter

But the congratulations were not universal - anti-immigration Dutch MP Geert Wilders said the results were a "bright day for patriots in France and elsewhere who want more national sovereignty and less EU and immigration".

And the British MEP Nigel Farage, a Eurosceptic and former UK Independence Party leader, tweeted: "Macron speaking with EU flag behind him. Says it all... speech was vacuous nonsense. Other than backing the status quo he says nothing."

Further afield

The chairman of the foreign relations committee of the Russian Lower House, Konstantin Kosachev, appeared to voice support for Marine Le Pen in a Facebook post. "Next it will be very like the fight Clinton [had] with Trump in the US," he wrote.

US President Donald Trump has yet to comment on the result, though he did tweet on Sunday that there was a "very interesting election currently taking place in France".

Vocal Trump supporters on Twitter have been congratulating Marine Le Pen, focusing on her hard line stance on immigration and what they see as a potential poll-defying victory, in the vein of Mr Trump's win or the UK's Brexit vote.

But Nate Silver, editor of poll analysis site FiveThirtyEight, stressed the difference between the Le Pen and Trump polls - tweeting that "anyone who says 'Le Pen can win because Trump!' is basically innumerate.

"Their situations are not at all comparable," he said.