The European Union and German establishment are rallying behind French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron after he emerged as the front runner in the first round of the French presidential vote. Pro-EU Macron and nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen have both advanced to the presidential runoff set for May 7, secured 23.7 and 21.7 percent of votes respectively.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman praised Marcon’s “firm course for a strong EU” and congratulated him on his preliminary victory, wishing him “all the best for the next two weeks.” German Foreign Minister Sigmar endorsed Marcon saying, “I am sure that he will be the next French president.” Minister Sigmar called him the “only pro-European candidate” in the French presidential race.

The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker broke protocol to wish Macron luck in the second round against Le Pen. German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported:

Leading politicians in Germany and Europe have voiced relief that pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron won Sunday’s poll. They called on French voters to back him in the second round against the far-right Marine Le Pen.

German lawmakers across the board have welcomed the victory of pro-Europe candidate Emmanuel Macron in the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday, calling it a win against nationalism and populism.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, wrote on Twitter: “Good that Emmauel Macron has been successful with his firm course for a strong EU and a social market economy,” and wished Macron “all the best for the next two weeks.”

It is unclear if the cheerleading by Merkel’s office and EU-endorsements are exactly what Marcon needs in order to win the May runoff.

With Le Pen consolidating her position on the right, pro-EU Macron needs to reach out to the voters on the left-fringe to build a winning coalition. In what promises to be a hotly contested runoff, trouble is already brewing in Macron’s camp. “While the candidates of the main left and right parties have endorsed the centrist [Macron], others have held back,” British newspaper New Statesman reported.

Following the defeat of socialist candidate Benoît Hamon, sitting President François Hollande endorsed the frontrunner Macron, saying Le Pen posed a real danger for the country and her victory would “deeply divide” France. Not that Le Pen needs to lose any sleep over that since President Hollande’s personal endorsement didn’t help the Clinton camp either.

Meanwhile, rioting broke out in Paris as the news of Le Pen’s strong showing in the poll made the rounds. The rioters set cars on fire and “reacted with fury when news spread that Marine Le Pen had made it through to the run-off vote,” EuroNews reported.

Watch: Nigel Farage Interviews Marine Le Pen (March 2017)

[Cover image courtesy FT, YouTube]