French Election: Barack Obama Endorses Emmanuel Macron

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron - April 17, 2017- Getty-H 2017
Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

The former U.S. president expressed his support for the independent centrist candidate following Wednesday night's contentious TV debate.

Former President Barack Obama has made a rare endorsement in the French presidential election, backing independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.

In a video posted to Macron's Twitter account Thursday afternoon, Obama acknowledged his endorsement was unusual.

"I'm not planning to get involved in many elections now that I don't have to run for office, but the French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about, because the success of France matters to the entire world," he said.

Macron, who left his position in the current socialist government to start his own party, will face off in a final round of voting against National Front candidate Marine Le Pen.

He said that he "admired" Macron's campaign and had spoken to the candidate recently.

"He has stood up for liberal values and put forth a vision for the important role that France plays in Europe and around the world, and he is committed to a better future for the French people. He appeals to people's hopes and not their fears," Obama continued, alluding to Le Pen's campaign.

Le Pen, daughter of National Front founder and Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, has campaigned with promises to have France leave the EU and discontinue using the euro currency and to close all borders. She has also said she wants to limit legal immigration to 10,000 people per year and tax any companies that hire foreigners.

"Because of how important this election is, I want you to know that I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward," Obama said.

Obama's endorsement follows Wednesday night's contentious debate between Macron and Le Pen.

A snap poll after the 2.5 hour-long debate set Macron as the winner, with 63 percent of viewers finding him more convincing, and he is running roughly 20 points ahead in general opinion polls.

The runoff election between the two candidates will take place on Sunday.