The results are in: Front National candidate Marine Le Pen and independent centrist Emmanuel Macron will duke it out in a second round of voting on May 7, pitting a conservative firebrand who wants to lead France out of the European Union and away from the Islamist threat against a pro-Europe globalist who promises to maintain the status quo.
Macron came out ahead with 23.3 percent of the vote compared to Le Pen‚Äôs 22.7 percent, while once-favorite Francois Fillon sputtered to a disappointing third place finish with 19.8 percent after his campaign was bogged down by a nepotism scandal.
Meanwhile, far-left hopeful Jean-Luc M√©lenchon ‚Äď who made waves with his unorthodox use of hologram technology to hold seven campaign rallies simultaneously ‚Äď appears to have narrowly been beaten by Fillon by 0.5 points, landing at 18.8 percent of the vote. Socialist Party candidate Beno√ģt Hamon brought up the rear in a distant fifth place, yet another indication of the ruling party‚Äôs deep unpopularity in France.
The day has been marked with chaos in some parts of the country as protestors burn cars and dance around bonfires while avoiding capture by riot police. Some could be seen waving red flags and singing ‚ÄúNo Marine and No Macron‚ÄĚ as they mourned the loss of their favorite candidates.
Nearly four in five French voters turned out to make their voices heard in what has proven a historic election, especially considering that neither Macron nor Le Pen are affiliated with the two major parties that have dominated French politics since the 1950s. Macron is projected to come out ahead after absorbing votes from M√©lenchon and Fillon, but many analysts have compared Le Pen‚Äôs situation to then-candidate Donald Trump in the weeks before his upset victory.