Hollande Backs Macron for President as French Runoff Race Begins

(Bloomberg) -- French President Francois Hollande said he wants Emmanuel Macron, his former economy minister, to succeed him in office and called on voters to back the candidate against Marine Le Pen in the May 7 runoff vote.

“The presence of the far right in the election means once again a risk for our country,” Hollande said in a statement to cameras in Paris, citing the risks of protectionism to jobs and purchasing power. “Under these circumstances, it’s not possible to remain silent. We must act. For my part, I’ll vote for Emmanuel Macron.”

Independent candidate Macron had 23.8 percent in the first round on Sunday, while Le Pen had 21.5 percent, according to results from the Interior Ministry with 97.4 percent of votes counted. Benoit Hamon, the candidate of Hollande’s Socialist Party, came in a distant fifth, with 6.4 percent of the vote.