MONTREAL — French nationals in Montreal expressed mixed reactions on Sunday as preliminary results showed far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron leading in the first round of France's presidential election.
At a French cultural centre in Montreal, both applause and boos rang out as a French TV station announced its projections just after the vote closed at 2 p.m.
While some expressed disappointment that Le Pen would be moving on to the second round, others said they were reassured that Macron was remaining in the race instead of conservative Francois Fillon, or far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.
"I'm more or less surprised, rather relieved," said Victoire Gonzalez, one of the hundred or so people who gathered at the Union Francaise to watch the results.
"I was really scared of a Fillon-Le Pen. Macron, I'm relieved because I think he'll succeed in rallying quite a few people," she added.
Many of the voters who spoke to The Canadian Press said they weren't overly enthusiastic about Macron but believed he would eliminate Le Pen in the second round.
"It makes me a bit sad that Marine Le Pen got through," said a voter named Stephane, who preferred not to give his last name. "And Macron, I don't really have confidence in him either."
"We just have to pick a side and go for it 100 per cent. It's one or the other, but not the candidates I would have preferred," he added.
Francois Brutley, who moved to Montreal a week ago, said he was happy to see Fillon excluded after his campaign was hit by a number of embarrassing scandals.
"It's more of a defeat from him than a victory for Emmanuel Macron," he said.
On Saturday, several thousand French nationals queued up for hours in Montreal's Outremont borough in order to cast their votes.
They will be able to take part in the second round on May 6, a day ahead of the official vote in France which will determine the country's next president.
Vicky Fragasso-Marquis, The Canadian Press