April 23, 2017 / 7:14 PM / 2 years ago

German lawmakers welcome Macron lead in French election

Badges for Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, are seen at the Parc des Expositions hall in Paris before results in the first round of 2017 French presidential election, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

BERLIN (Reuters) - German politicians on Sunday welcomed the projected victory of centrist Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election, but said they remained concerned about the combined strength of the anti-European vote.

Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are set to face each other in a May 7 runoff for the French presidency after coming first and second in Sunday’s round of voting, early projections indicated.

Gunther Krichbaum, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and head of the parliamentary European affairs committee, said Macron’s victory was “a valuable signal” for German-French cooperation.

At the same time, he said it was alarming that the combined votes for Le Pen and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is also critical of European integration, totaled 40 percent.

Axel Schaefer, vice chairman of the Social Democrats in parliament, said the election result showed that the “right-wing march” across Europe had been stopped, following setbacks for populist candidates in Austria and the Netherlands.

“Macron showed that a pro-European candidate can also mobilize people. In the second round, all republican forces will have to stand together,” he said.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Dale Hudson

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