Le Pen on offensive in runoff against Macron in French election.
PARIS | France’s established parties are rallying around the man who helped shut them out of the presidential runoff, maverick centrist and former banker Emmanuel Macron — an alliance of convenience aimed at keeping far-right Marine Le Pen out of the Elysee Palace.
Support for Mr. Macron also poured in Monday from the seat of the European Union, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jewish and Muslim groups troubled by Ms. Le Pen’s nationalist, anti-immigration vision.
European stock markets surged, and France’s main index hit its highest level since early 2008, as investors gambled that the rise of populism around the world — symbolized by Britain’s vote to leave the EU and President Trump’s electoral victory last year — may have peaked.
For all the paeans to Mr. Macron’s unifying vision in divided times, it is now up to French voters to decide whether to entrust him with this nuclear-armed nation in the May 7 presidential runoff. Polls consider Mr. Macron, who has never held elective office, the front-runner but that’s no guarantee that the French will come together to stop Ms. Le Pen the way they stopped her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, from reaching the presidency in another two-way race in 2002.
France’s divided political mainstream, rejected by an angry electorate, united Monday to urge voters to back Mr. Macron and reject Ms. Le Pen’s far-right agenda.
Politicians on the moderate left and right, including French President Francois Hollande and the losing Socialist and Republican Party candidates in Sunday’s first-round vote, maneuvered to block Ms. Le Pen’s path to power.
In a solemn address from the Elysee Palace, Mr. Hollande said he would vote for Mr. Macron, his former economy minister, because Ms. Le Pen represents “both the danger of the isolation of France and of rupture with the European Union.”
Voters narrowed the French presidential field from 11 to two in Sunday’s first-round vote, and losers from across the spectrum called on their supporters But the early polls — which proved highly accurate in Sunday’s vote — give Mr. Macron 62 percent of the vote and Ms. Le Pen just 38 percent in head-tohead match-up, although two weeks of intense campaigning still lie ahead.
Ms. Le Pen, meanwhile, is hoping to peel away voters historically opposed to her National Front Party, long tainted by charges of racism and anti-Semitism. On Monday, she took a step in that direction, announcing she was temporarily stepping down as party leader, a move that appeared to be aimed at drawing a wider range of potential voters and was in keeping with her efforts in recent years to garner broader support from the left and right.
French far-right leader and candidate for the 2017 presidential election Marine Le Pen will face off against Emmanuel Macron in May 7 presidential runoff.