French citizens in Montreal express mixed reactions to early election results

November 27, 2016: Former prime minister Francois Fillon wins the centre-right primaries' second-round and becomes his camp's candidate, beating favourite Alain Juppe, whom opinion polls had seen as France's next president.

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon conceded defeat but far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon refused to step aside until votes from France's cities, where he and Macron draw much of their support, had been counted.

With two of the leading four top candidates hostile to the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the election could further shake up the West's liberal post-war order, already rattled by Britain's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's election to the White House.

As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China has cooperated with France on political and security issues such as Syria, North Korea and climate change, Cui Hongjian, the director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said. While Islam has been a big part of Le Pen's campaign and the electoral debate, French voters in Muslim-majority Egypt said the topic did not affect their voting choices. Voters in French overseas territories and foreign countries cast ballots Saturday.

Voters are choosing between 11 candidates in the most unpredictable contest in decades.

Before official campaigning ended on Friday, candidates were battling not just against each other but also against the apathy that has taken hold among large sections of the French population. Around 50,000 police and 7,000 soldiers were deployed to guard voters.

But Hajar Erhamani, a 39-year-old teaching assistant from the well-heeled Paris suburb of Sevres, said she was more anxious about the economy and allegations about lawmakers lining their pockets with public money.

Almost 47 million voters will decide, under tight security, whether to back a pro-EU centrist newcomer, a scandal-ridden veteran conservative who wants to slash public spending, a far-left eurosceptic admirer of Fidel Castro or appoint France's first woman president, to shut borders and ditch the euro.

Security was tight after a deadly attack on the Champs Elysees on Thursday in which a police officer and a gunman were slain.

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"I will be a president who transforms, protects and helps those have little", he said, promising to embrace "all the French people".

Seeking to benefit from a worldwide move away from established political parties, the former banker and economy minister formed his own movement, "En Marche" ("On the Move"), that he says is "neither to the left nor to the right".

"The main message that I have is to wish you all the best in the coming days", Obama can be heard telling Macron in a recording of the video the candidate posted on Twitter Thursday.

Mathilde Jullien, 23, said she is convinced Macron will beat Le Pen.

France voted on Sunday in the first round of a bitterly fought presidential election that is crucial to the future of Europe and a closely-watched test of voters' anger with the political establishment.

The two candidates who get the most votes in the first round will advance to the second round in two weeks when a new French president will be chosen.

Unpopular Socialist President François Hollande did not run for re-election, unusual for an incumbent French leader.

The candidate for the governing Socialists, Benoit Hamon, was a distant fifth going into the final weekend.

Documents leaked to the La Parisien newspaper show the French intelligence services warned rioting could be expected if either Le Pen or Mélenchon make it through to the next round of voting.

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