Macron, Le Pen ahead in French presidential race: Projection

Macron was projected to score 23-24 percent, with Le Pen at 21.6-23 per cent, according to several polling institutes.

Macron, Le Pen ahead in French presidential race: Projection

Paris: Centrist Emmanuel Macron finished ahead of far-right leader Marine Le Pen today to qualify alongside her for the runoff in France's presidential election, initial projections suggested.

Macron was projected to score 23-24 percent, with Le Pen at 21.6-23 per cent, according to several polling institutes.

If the first-round result is confirmed, it would put the 39-year-old pro-Europe Macron within striking distance of the presidency.

He is on course to face eurosceptic, anti-immigration Le Pen in the May 7 vote seen as vital for the future of the ailing European Union.