Macron received 23.8 percent of the votes and Le Pen 21.6 percent, according to French research firm IFOP. Another global research company, IPSOS, says the two candidates received 23.7 and 21.7 percent of the votes, respectively.

However, according to a preliminary vote count, Marine Le Pen leads in the first round, with Macron second, Bloomberg reported, citing the French Interior Ministry.

Présidentielle : Marine Le Pen et Emmanuel Macron loin devant François Fillon au 1er tour #Histoire & #Politique sur

Citing partial figures from the ministry, Reuters also reported that based on some 20 million votes counted, Le Pen leads the vote. The results do not include votes from France’s largest cities, it added.

Francois Fillon of The Republicans and Jean-Luc Melenchon of La France Insoumise are also among the top four.

Left-wing socialist Melenchon has called for “restraint” over any preliminary results. Saying that he does not yet accept defeat, the candidate refused to validate any but the official results of the voting, which, he said, will be “respected.”

After the official results are announced, the top two candidates will then proceed to a run-off vote on May 7.

The figures pretty much confirm previous estimates of who the top four contenders are in the race, out of a total of 11 candidates.

Benoit Hamon of the Socialist Party, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan of Debout la France, Nathalie Arthaud of Lutte Ouvriere, Philippe Poutou of the New Anticapitalist Party, Jacques Cheminade of Solidarity and Progress, Jean Lassalle of Resistons!, and Francois Asselineau of the Popular Republican Union also initially vied for moving into Elysee Palace.

Speaking to the AFP news agency, Macron said together with his supporters he is “turning a page in French political history.”

France’s Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has called on all democrats to vote for Macron in the second round.

Article source: MINA.