Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and Front National’s Marine Le Pen have qualified for the second round in the French presidential election securing 23.7 and 21.7 percent of votes respectively, French news agency AFP reports. Conservative François Fillon conceded defeat after getting 19.5 percent of the votes. Fillon endorsed Macron and called his supporters to vote for his rival in the final round.

A fact that should cheer liberals and feminists alike: with today’s result, France is just one step away from getting its first female president.

According to French election rules, if none of the candidates get 50 percent of the vote in the first round then the top two candidates have to face each other in a run-off.

These results are based on early projections and final tally may vary, but going by most projections, Le Pen is set to face Macron in the run-off scheduled for May 7.

French broadcaster France 24 writes:

Centrist Emmanuel Macron will face off against far-right Marine Le Pen in the second round of France’s presidential election, projections showed Sunday, making him clear favourite to emerge as the country’s youngest leader in modern history.

Macron was projected to win between 23 and 24 percent in Sunday’s first round, slightly ahead of National Front (FN) leader Le Pen with between 21.6 and 23 percent, according to estimates on public television.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders congratulated Le Pen, tweeting, “Long live the victory!” and “Marine Le Pen President!”

Socialist Benoît Hamon, who got just over 6 percent of the vote, took responsibility for the electoral drubbing calling it a ‘historic’ defeat. It still remains to be seen if Hamon will endorse Macron and convince the voters on the French left-fringe to support an establishment candidate.

In next month’s run-off European mainstream media and political establishment will undoubetedly rally behind Macron with the sole purpose of preventing Le Pen from winning the race. However, Marcon’s victory depends on his ability to win over liberal and leftist voters.

If enough left-leaning voters stay home — like Bernie Sanders’ supporters in the U.S. presidential election — or opt for Front National’s social policies or its anti-EU agenda, Le Pen could come out victorious in the final round of presidential vote.

Live coverage of French presidential vote (France 24)

[Cover image via France24, Youtube]

[Editor’s note (FS):  Watch Macron’s address to his supporters:]

[Editor’s note (FS):  Watch Le Pen’s address to her supporters]