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Macron and Le Pen will advance to runoff in French presidential election, preliminary results suggest

French President Emmanuel Macron is projected to win the first round of the presidential election, but will fall far short of the 50 percent of the vote he would need to avoid a runoff, France Info reported Sunday.

According to projections compiled by consulting firms Ipsos and Sopra Steria, Macron received 28.1 percent of the vote with right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen in second place with 23.3 percent. The two will face each other in a runoff election on April 24.

Leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon finished third with 20.1 percent, while journalist Éric Zemmour, who ran to Le Pen's right, took fourth with 7.2 percent.

Almost three quarters of eligible voters cast ballots, down slightly from 2017.  

Macron and Mélenchon slightly outperformed a poll conducted on Thursday and Friday, which showed their support at 26 and 17.5 percent, respectively. Le Pen underperformed slightly, having polled at 25 percent.

Early last month, Macron held a 61-31 lead over Le Pen, who he soundly defeated in 2017's runoff, but voters' concerns about rising costs of living wiped it out almost entirely in the weeks preceding the election. The two are polling dead even for the second round.

Center-right candidate Valérie Pécresse, who received just 5 percent of the vote, conceded defeat Sunday and said she would vote for Macron "to prevent the coming to power of Marine Le Pen."

According to an Ipsos poll conducted on Friday, 38 percent of Pécresse's supporters identified Macron as their second choice, while only 19 percent named Le Pen.