Hollande urges French: vote Macron for sake of France and Europe

French President Francois Hollande attends his last summit presser after the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) - President Francois Hollande urged the French on Saturday to choose centrist Emmanuel Macron over far-right opponent Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election, telling voters it was their duty to Europe as well as France.

Hollande had previously said he would vote for his former economy minister but had not given voting instructions.

Polls show Macron winning on May 7 with about 59-60 percent, but the momentum has been with Le Pen, who has clawed back about five percentage points over the past week.

Le Pen on Saturday chose defeated first-round candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan as her chosen prime minister if she were to be elected, a bid to attract his voters.

“One has to take the ballot paper, the Macron one, and consider it as the ballot that will prevent (the country) from the far right,” Hollande said on the sidelines of a European Union summit devoted to Brexit.

Voters had a responsibility towards Europe as well as France, he said, a reference to Le Pen’s anti-EU stance.

“The consequences would be high if France were to turn away from Europe. The choice of the French people is a choice for France but also for the European Union.”

Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Robin Pomeroy