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Marine Le Pen beats Emmanuel Macron in France as nationalists gain in EU vote

Updated : May 27, 2019 08:25 AM IST

Marine Le Pen's far-right party edged just ahead of the centrist alliance of President Emmanuel Macron in exit polls as French voters led what pollsters expected to be a nationalist surge in an EU parliament election on Sunday. The defeat for the president was narrow amid a sharply increased turnout that was matched across the continent in what Brussels is portraying as a positive sign, in spite of gains for anti-EU groups.

Le Pen's National Rally would get just one more seat than Macron's En Marche, with 24 of France's 74 in the European Parliament, the exit poll showed. But it was a bitter blow for those who hope the French leader can inspire Europeans to embrace the Union as an answer rather than as part of the problem in the face of social change that has bewildered and frustrated some voters. Macron's office immediately put out a statement calling the performance -- 22.5% for En Marche against 24.3% for the party of the woman he beat to the presidency -- disappointing but no disaster. And it noted that pro-EU parties were in the majority. The French Greens also did well, coming third in a crowded field, to add to the dazzling second place of their German counterparts, lending further credibility to expectations of a "green wave" that will influence policy in the coming years.

Women make their choices during European Parliament election in Riga, Latvia, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Women make their choices during European Parliament election in Riga, Latvia, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
A woman casts her vote in the European Parliament Elections in Limal, Belgium May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
A woman casts her vote in the European Parliament Elections in Limal, Belgium May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
A woman casts her vote during European Parliament election in Riga, Latvia, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
A woman casts her vote during European Parliament election in Riga, Latvia, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
A woman holds a child as she casts her vote during European Parliament election in Riga, Latvia, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
A woman holds a child as she casts her vote during European Parliament election in Riga, Latvia, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Ballot papers are counted during the UK South East Region European Election count in Southampton, Britain, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Ballot papers are counted during the UK South East Region European Election count in Southampton, Britain, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A kid in a Spiderman costume stands next to a ballot table for the European Parliament election at a polling station in Madrid, Spain, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera
A kid in a Spiderman costume stands next to a ballot table for the European Parliament election at a polling station in Madrid, Spain, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera
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A "yellow vest" looks on as election officials count ballots as vote counting starts in European parliament elections in Cambrai, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
An election official examines ballots as vote counting starts in European parliament elections in Cambrai, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
An election official examines ballots as vote counting starts in European parliament elections in Cambrai, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Exit poll results for Germany are displayed on a screen at the Plenary Hall during the election night for European elections at the European Parliament, in Brussels, Belgium, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Exit poll results for Germany are displayed on a screen at the Plenary Hall during the election night for European elections at the European Parliament, in Brussels, Belgium, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
An election official examines ballots as vote counting starts in European parliament elections in Cambrai, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
An election official examines ballots as vote counting starts in European parliament elections in Cambrai, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Election officials empty a ballot box as vote counting starts in European parliament elections in Cambrai, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Election officials empty a ballot box as vote counting starts in European parliament elections in Cambrai, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
General view of the stage at Plenary Hall before the election night at the European Parliament, in Brussels, Belgium, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
General view of the stage at Plenary Hall before the election night at the European Parliament, in Brussels, Belgium, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
People attend an event by pro-European
People attend an event by pro-European "Pulse of Europe" movement, during the European Parliament elections at Gendarmenmarkt square in Berlin, Germany, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
A woman attends an event by pro-European
A woman attends an event by pro-European "Pulse of Europe" movement, during the European Parliament elections at Gendarmenmarkt square in Berlin, Germany, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
An European
An European "yellow vests" protester is detained by police during the last day of the European Parliament elections in Brussels, Belgium May 26, 2019 REUTERS/Yves Herman
People read electoral leaflets during the last day of the European Parliament elections in Milan, Italy May 26, 2019 REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
People read electoral leaflets during the last day of the European Parliament elections in Milan, Italy May 26, 2019 REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
People prepare their ballots during the European Parliament Elections, in Henin-Beaumont, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
People prepare their ballots during the European Parliament Elections, in Henin-Beaumont, France, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
A woman leaves the polling booth during the last day of the European Parliament elections in Milan, Italy May 26, 2019 REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
A woman leaves the polling booth during the last day of the European Parliament elections in Milan, Italy May 26, 2019 REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
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