The far-right female National Front leader will go head-to-head with the 39-year-old favourite to win the presidency.
Paris, France – French citizens have chosen centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen to contest the final round of the presidential election, set to take place on May 7.
Macron picked up 23.8 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 21.5 percent in Sunday’s first round, which saw a higher than expected turnout of 79 percent, according to the French interior ministry.
A 39-year-old former investment banker who has never stood for public office before, Macron is expected to beat Le Pen in the runoff election by a margin of around 20 points.
His support base is in the west of France, and major urban settlements, including the Ile-de-France region that includes Paris.
In the French capital, Macron picked up 35 percent of the vote, compared with Le Pen’s 5 percent, perhaps explaining the difficulty in finding voices willing to express support for National Front (FN) leader in the city.
Al Jazeera asked Parisians how they felt about Sunday’s election and whether they believed a Le Pen victory is possible.
Emma said she was disappointed to see Le Pen go through to the runoff because the far-right leader has mulled taking France out of the European Union.
She also fears the language Le Pen has used to describe refugees but does not believe she can beat Macron in the second round.
“I don’t see Marine Le Pen winning because many supporters of [Benoit] Hamon and [Francois] Fillon [eliminated candidates] are going to vote Macron.”
Lisa said it was “crazy” that Le Pen had reached the second round of the election, but added that the high level of support for Melenchon among young people was a sign that they wanted change.
“The younger generation want something new, maybe Melenchon is too radical, but we are stuck with politicians who do nothing,” she said, adding that she thought Le Pen had little chance of winning.
“All of the left is going to vote for Macron, and also a lot of the right, but we won’t know for sure until it happens.”
Sabrine, Adewele, and Charlene, are student interns at an insurance company in central Paris.
While being interviewed, a colleague outside of the frame joked that they looked like Marine Le Pen’s vision of France.
“One Beur [Arab], one black, one white,” he said sarcastically.
The trio are fans of leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, but said they would now vote against Le Pen in the upcoming run-off vote.
“I plan to leave France if she becomes the next president,” said Sabrine, adding: “I don’t want my six-month old daughter growing up with Le Pen on her case.”
Adewele agreed and said he would move to an English-speaking country if Le Pen won, but does not think it is likely she will.
Charlene said Macron had “no charisma”, but people would vote for him because they wanted to “avoid having a President Le Pen”.
Hugo did not vote in the first round despite being a Melenchon supporter, but said he would not risk the chance of Le Pen winning the second round.
“If French people made the effort to read Le Pen’s programme, they would understand how negative her proposals are,” he said.
“She can win and that’s why I’ll be voting in two weeks, if she does [win] then it’s a failure for France.”
Abdel does not think Le Pen has a realistic chance of winning and thinks France will reject her on May 7:
“She has racist ideas and it’s not possible that France would elect such a president.”
Elodie said she was shocked that Macron had made the second round at the expense of conservative candidate Fillon.
She told Al Jazeera she does not support Le Pen but sexism would count against her.
“Marine Le Pen cannot win because she’s a woman … France is less open minded than people believe,” she said.
Christian called Macron the “face of France” and someone who would “modernise the French political system”.
When asked if Le Pen had a shot at winning, he said: “No, no, no, Marine Le Pen is not going to win … Macron in the Elysee is already a revolution. Le Pen won’t win now, and neither will she in 2022.”