Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen emerged Sunday as the two top vote getters in the first round of France’s presidential election. The two will now face each other in a May 7 election, with the future of France’s immigration programs and its relations with the European Union in the balance.

The centrist Macron finished with 24.0 percent of the vote and the far-right Le Pen with 21.3 percent, according to figures posted to the Minister of the Interior’s website. Conservative Franҫois Fillon came in third with 20.0 percent and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon finished fourth with 19.6 percent.

As BAL reported last week, Macron and Le Pen offer starkly different views on immigration. Macron defends the EU and wants to increase high-skilled immigration, streamline immigration procedures and reduce talent-visa processing times. Le Pen has called for France to dramatically reduce immigration, suspend participation in the Schengen Area and perhaps leave the EU. She would like to make it harder to hire foreign workers and proposes a tax on new employment contracts for all foreign employees.

BAL Analysis: Macron and Le Pen were seen as the favorites to move on to the May 7 runoff. Le Pen is hoping to ride a populist tide to victory, but analysts believe Macron has the edge in a head-to-head match-up. France’s Socialist and Republican parties, neither of which will have a candidate on the May 7 ballot, lined up behind Macron after Sunday’s vote. BAL will continue watching the French election and its potential to impact French immigration programs and the EU.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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