Le Pen upstages rival Macron with stop at factory

French election run-off candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen

We, along with the rest of the world, have heaved a sigh of relief after the outcome of the first round of the French presidential election.

France's outgoing president, Francois Hollande, on Monday urged people to back centrist Emmanuel Macron in a vote to choose his successor next month and reject far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose place in the run-off represented a "risk" for France, Reuters reported.

The move was seen as largely symbolic but one that would loosen her association with the FN, the party founded by Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie, notorious for anti-Semitic and xenophobic remarks. However, a number of bookmakers have detailed that Le Pen dominates market wagers as political punters look for their Brexit and Trump moment in 2017.

Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked the world in 2002 by qualifying for the second round of the presidential election and then went on to lose in a landslide to conservative Jacques Chirac. "There is no miracle recipe".

"Despite the scandals, I thought he was the only one who had a program that broke with the past and placed the family at its center".

Her programme calls for sharp curbs on immigration and on the rights of immigrants living in France, as well as the expulsion of foreigners under suspicion of having militant Islamist links.

She told Al Jazeera she does not support Le Pen but sexism would count against her. He dismissed such an idea, saying in an interview with BFM TV channel that "the mission of a state is not to produce clothes dryers". "Your vote is not a blank check".

The pro-EU centrist had to tread a fine line between defending his programme to tackle France's chronic unemployment without falling into the trap of making campaign promises that, if he wins, he could struggle to keep.

"Marine Le Pen can not win because she's a woman".

A run-off election like that of France would solve this problem.

"The cloud is going to clear because now we're head-to-head and French people are going to discover the content of his project which will have a severe social, economic and migratory impact", she said. She has made a surprise campaign stop to a home appliance factory that's the latest hot-button symbol of French job losses to plants overseas.

A runoff will be held on May 7 after the two candidates emerged at the top in the first round.

Union leaders later felt betrayed when the Hayange plant's blast furnaces were mothballed in a deal that President Hollande's government struck with steel giant ArcelorMittal.

A previous version of this story has been corrected to show that production at the Whirlpool plant is scheduled to halt next year, not this year.

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