World Bulletin / News Desk
President Francois Hollande on Monday urged the nation to vote for the centrist presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron, in the decisive presidential run-off on May 7, saying the former economy minister was best placed to unite the people of France.
Macron passed far-right leader Marine Le Pen with 23.75 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 21.53 percent in Sunday's first round, according to the Interior Ministry.
Speaking in a televised address to the nation, Hollande said the advance of the far-right candidate to the second round "poses a risk" by "severely dividing" the country and would lead to thousands of job losses due to her policies.
Hollande warned of "the danger of the isolation of France but also of the rupture with the EU".
"The far- right would divide France, stigmatize some of our citizens because of their origin or their religion," Hollande said, adding: "Faced with such a risk, we must not remain silent. Mobilization is necessary but also the clarity of choices."
"For my part, I will vote for Emmanuel Macron. He is the one who defends the values that allow the unity of the French people," he continued.
"What is at stake is France’s make-up, its unity, its membership of Europe and its place in the world," the outgoing president concluded.
For Le Pen, the answer to security, terrorism and economy issues is to block legal and illegal immigration, cease admitting refugees, say goodbye to the EU and reintroduce the franc.
The 48-year-old lawyer vowed to hold a national referendum on leaving the EU and the Schengen border-free area within six months of taking office.
Le Pen says she is against "Islamist globalization" and wants France to be a "true country" and not "a mere region of the European Union”.
Macron was Hollande's top adviser on economic issues from 2012 to 2014, then economy minister in his Socialist government for two years. The ex-investment banker later founded his own political movement En Marche! (On the move) in April last year.
Surveys projecting a second-round clash between Macron and Le Pen have consistently shown the centrist candidate winning by a comfortable margin.
The new president will be formally confirmed by mid-May.
The presidential poll is to be followed by a two-round legislative election to select the parliament in June.