The Latest: European Jewish leaders call Le Pen ‘dangerous’

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A montage of French national newspaper front pages reporting on the winners of the first round of the French presidential election, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, are displayed in Paris, France, Monday, April 24, 2017. French voters shut out the country’s political mainstream from the presidency for the first time in the country’s modern history, and on Monday found themselves being courted across the spectrum for the runoff election. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

(AP) — The Latest on the French election (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

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The president of the European Jewish Congress has lamented the success of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential elections.

Speaking on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Moshe Kantor described Le Pen as “dangerous” and adds that it was “extremely regrettable that more than one in five French voters voted for Le Pen.”

Kantor highlighted that the 48-year-old National Front leader recently “made comments against the historic record of the Holocaust which makes her no less dangerous than her Holocaust-denying father who she has tried to hide.”

Earlier this month, Le Pen denied that France was responsible for rounding up more than 13,000 Jews at a Paris cycle track to be sent to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.

Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in a runoff election on May 7.

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11:55 a.m.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis says he hopes a victory in the French presidential election for Emmanuel Macron would mark a break in the rise of extremist populist parties in Europe.

Speaking to Spain’s Cadena Ser radio, Dastis stressed the need for caution but added that a win for Macron in the second round against Marine Le Pen would be “good news because his project for Europe is the closest to that of the Spanish government.”

Dastis said he hoped an eventual victory for Macron, together with recent Dutch election results, will confirm a move away from populist parties but added that European countries “need to get their act together, need to re-examine and constantly improve the European project.”

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11:40 a.m.

French far-right president candidate Marine le Pen is accusing rival Emmanuel Macron of being “weak” in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

Le Pen, campaigning in a farmers’ market in the small town of Rouvroy in northern France, told reporters Macron “runs for presidential election while having no program” on counterterrorism issues.

Repeating her campaign’s mantra, she says she wants “to put back France in order.”

The leader of the anti-immigration, anti-Islam National Front party arrived will face Macron, an independent centrist and the early favorite, in the May 7 runoff.

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11:20 a.m.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says it is important for France and for Europe that Emmanuel Macron win the French presidential runoff election.

Speaking in Amman, Jordan, Gabriel said: “It’s important for France because he has the courage and the strength to lead the country out of its lethargy.”

He adds that a Macron victory would signal a “new beginning for Europe,” but he says a win by Marine Le Pen would “push Europe deeper into crisis.”

The centrist Macron is the early favorite to defeat Le Pen, the candidate of the far right.

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10:05 a.m.

European stock markets have surged on the open as investors welcomed the result of the first round of the French presidential election.

France’s CAC 40 soared 3.9 percent while Germany’s DAX rose 2.5 percent on Monday morning. The euro risen strongly on Sunday night, when it begins trading during Asian currency market hours. It had risen 2 percent but later eased back slightly to be 1.2 percent higher on the day, at $1.0857.

The centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and populist Marine Le Pen will go onto a second round vote, with Macron favored to win. Investors welcome his commitment to strengthen the European Union and the euro, both of which Le Pen wants France to exit.

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9:40 a.m.

French police say six officers and three demonstrators have been injured in election night violence in which protesters burned cars, danced around bonfires and dodged riot police.

Police said on Monday morning they had detained 29 people in the unrest between protesters and police at the Place de la Bastille.

Protesters waved red flags and sang “No Marine and No Macron!” in anger at the results of Sunday’s first-round presidential election.

Some 300 people gathered at a peaceful protest at nearby Place de la Republique, waving red flags and dancing around the flames of a bonfire.

Some sang “Now burn your electoral cards” or “No Marine and No Macron!,” referring to centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who topped the first-round vote and advance to the May 7 runoff.

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8:50 a.m.

A vice president of the European Parliament is describing Emmanuel Macron as a “French John F. Kennedy” and says his first-round victory is good news for Europe.

Alexander Lambsdorff, a German liberal lawmaker, said Sunday’s result was a victory for two protest candidates. He described independent centrist Macron’s far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, as “a nationalist, a racist — I know the woman from the European Parliament, a very unpleasant person.”

Lambsdorff told Germany’s ZDF television Monday that hopes Macron, “this independent, fresh French John F. Kennedy, if you like, succeeds in setting policy with his ideas.”

Le Pen and Macron will face each other in the May 7 runoff.

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8:40 a.m.

Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says the defeated Socialist Party is self-destructing and has to look forward to rebuild.

Valls spoke Monday to France-Inter radio, a day after French voters rejected mainstream political parties, shutting them out of the French presidency for the first time in the country’s modern history. The Socialist candidate drew around 6 percent of the vote, a dismal showing for the party that has held power for the past five years.

Valls said: “We are in a phase of decomposition, demolition, deconstruction.”

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8:30 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman is welcoming Emmanuel Macron’s success in the first round of France’s presidential election and wishing him “all the best for the next two weeks.”

Pro-European Union centrist Macron will face far-right nationalist contender Marine Le Pen in a May 7 runoff after topping the vote in Sunday’s first round.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, wrote on Twitter late Sunday night: “Good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with his course for a strong EU + social market economy.”

Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted that “the result for Emmanuel Macron shows: France AND Europe can win together! The center is stronger than the populists think!”

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7:50 a.m.

France’s far right is reaching out to voters who backed the defeated far-left contender, hoping to peel away voters from the extremes of the political spectrum.

The May 7 runoff will be between the populist Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, and French politicians on the moderate left and right immediately urged voters to block Le Pen’s path to power. The defeated far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, pointedly refused to do the same.

Le Pen offers an alternative for anyone skeptical of the European Union and France’s role in it, said Louis Aliot, the vice president of the National Front party.

He spoke Monday to RTL radio after the earthshaking vote that saw France’s mainstream political parties shut out of the presidency for the first time in modern history.

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