Protestors clash with police in France over election results

Among the first of the 11 candidates to step out was the far right leader of the Front National, Marine le Pen, who cast her vote at the Jacques Rousseau primary school in Hénin-Beaumont, a small town of around 26,500.

Centrist Macron, far-right leader Le Pen advance to French presidential runoff after major opponents concede defeat.

June's legislative elections also pose a challenge for Macron, who wants to win a parliamentary majority with his brand-new party "En Marche!"

It sets up a battle between Mr Macron's optimistic vision of a tolerant France with open borders against Ms Le Pen's darker, inward-looking platform calling for closed borders, tougher security, less immigration and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the franc.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote on Sunday, the contest will move to a run-off in May between the two with the most votes.

If the results are confirmed, once all votes are counted, the candidates will face each other in the decisive 7 May runoff.

The president is elected directly by the people in a vote of one or two rounds.

Melenchon says that's a possibility if he can't renegotiate France's role in a bloc blamed for myriad economic and security woes.

France's 10 per cent unemployment rate, its struggling economy and security were issues that top concerns for the 47 million eligible voters.

In the wake of the shootings on the Champs Elysees Thursday that left a police officer dead, Le Pen called for the closing of all "Islamist" mosques in the country and the immediate expulsion of those on France's equivalent of a terror watch list.

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The French election results could be so close that it may not be immediately clear which two candidates qualify for the runoff, campaign officials for Le Pen and Fillon said, with the assumption being that Macron would qualify. "He will win because he is able to unite people from the right and the left against the threat of the National Front and he proposes real solutions for France's economy".

While constitutional obstacles would make it hard for her to uncouple France from the European Union, a Le Pen victory could nonetheless be fatal for the European Union, already weakened by Britain's shock vote to leave. "I think they're all decent candidates".

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that there was a "very interesting election now taking place in France".

Names of 2017 French presidential election candidates are printed during the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Paris, France, April 23, 2017.

With France still under the state of emergency imposed after the Paris attacks of November 2015 security was tight.

Macron and Fillon are committed to European unity and would reform labor rules. For them to win the top two qualifying positions on Sunday would represent a huge change in the political landscape, as the second round would feature neither of the mainstream parties that have governed France for decades.

President Francois Hollande has cast his vote in the first round of the French election in his political fiefdom of Tulle in Correze, southwestern France.

"We're all about globalization and not creating borders and barriers and I feel like she's going to do the same and that's not something we like, we're a very worldwide family", French citizen Nichol Garzon said.

Incumbent President Francois Hollande decided not to stand because of his low poll numbers, and Benoit Hamon, the candidate for Hollande's Socialist Party, trails way behind the four frontrunners.

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