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Far-Right Le Pen and Center-Right Macron Frontrunners in French Election

Former investment banker Emmanuel Macron and Front National candidate Marine Le Pen qualified for May 7 runoff vote

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron will face off in the second round of voting. (Photos: Getty)

France will see the far-right, xenophobic Front National candidate Marine Le Pen face off against Emmanuel Macron, an investment banker who hasn't held public office, in a runoff vote on May 7, as the first round of an unusual presidential election concluded with Sunday's vote.

Students immediately took to the streets in protest against Le Pen's success in the first round, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

Macron received about 24 percent of the vote, while Le Pen received about 22 percent, according to the French government's initial vote estimates as reported by the Guardian.

"It is worth underlining that this is the first time in modern French history that neither of the mainstream center-right or center-left parties of government that have governed France since the second world war have qualified for the second round of a presidential election," observes the Guardian.

Progressive candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who saw a last-minute surge in the polls, received about 19.5 percent of the vote, as did the Republican party candidate François Fillon.

Le Pen has campaigned on a divisive anti-immigrant and xenophobic platform, and was accused of exploiting last week's shooting of a Paris police officer in an effort to garner votes.

The May 7 runoff vote will feature two candidates with extremely different visions for France, economically as well as socially. Reuters reports that "Macron favors gradual deregulation measures that will be welcomed by global financial markets, while Le Pen wants to ditch the euro currency and possibly pull out of the EU."

"Whatever the outcome on May 7, it will mean a redrawing of France's political landscape, which has been dominated for 60 years by mainstream groupings from the center-left and center-right, both of whose candidates faded," Reuters notes.

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