Le Pen steps down as party leader

The most high-profile mainstream endorsement for Mr Macron came from president Francois Hollande, who cited “the risk for our country’s future” if Ms Le Pen won.

Another suggestion is that Le Pen’s distance from National Front will make it easier for her to build bridges with members of other right-leaning parties.

Overnight, Macron and Le Pen secured the two berths for the run-off in May 7 in a result that saw the two movements that have dominated French politics for 60 years eliminated in the first round, partial results showed.

Macron, a 39-year old former investment banker, pipped the National Front candidate to first place on Sunday and opinion polls see him comfortably beating Le Pen on May 7 to win the keys to the Elysee.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni have expressed their desire to work together for the benefit of European prosperity, .

During an interview with the France 2 television channel, Le Pen said she is not “disappointed” with the first round but she has hope that “we can win and we will win”. In the French election, the campaign of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was closely followed as it was in the same fiercely nationalist and separatist tradition as that of Trump in the USA and Brexit in the UK.

In Ireland, Ms Le Pen secured 3.98% of votes cast here, while Mr Macron secured 44.87%.

For Le Pen, her rival in the election, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, is part of the elite, which she calls the “oligarchy”.

Le Pen is the daughter of Jean Marie Le Pen. Her popularity has already outstripped that of her father, who stood in the 2002 presidential race.

Francois Fillon, the scandal-plagued conservative Republicans candidate, fared marginally better, coming in third with just shy of 20 per cent of the vote.

On Monday, the president of the Grand Mosque of Paris released a statement urging French Muslims to vote en masse for Macron, as the “threat of division and fragmentation” faces French society.

Even members of Switzerland’s right-wing anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party (SVP) are less than enamoured by the idea of a Le Pen presidency – with one even accusing the populist presidential candidate of being too left-wing.

On the other hand, Mr. Macron – if elected – won’t have much of a political base in the French National Assembly.

“France’s potential departure from the European Union under a Le Pen presidency-a “Frexit”-could have a far-reaching impact on the world’s economy”.

A number of German lawmakers had earlier commented on Emmanuel Macron’s victory at the first stage of the French elections.

French presidential election candidate for the far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen | Patrick Kovarik  AFP via Getty Images