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Don't Panic About the French Elections

Not yet, at least. Despite the abundant parallels between Trumpism and the populist rage powering Marine Le Pen, the French contender isn’t a mirror image of the American president—and she’s not likely to prevail in next month’s run-off.  
French presidential aspirant Marine Le Pen celebrates a strong showing in the first round of voting.
French presidential aspirant Marine Le Pen celebrates a strong showing in the first round of voting. Charles Platiau/Reuters

If the results of the French presidential election’s first round are a major upset, they’re not exactly a surprise. For months, analysts have been predicting the result of yesterday’s voting, which saw the French electorate spurn the country’s two major political parties to vote through independent centrist Emanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen to the second-round run-off, due to be held on May 7.

This long-predicted result is still something of a shock. A frustrated electorate appears to have punished France’s establishment, voting in the largest numbers for representatives of two parties that have never held presidential office, Macron’s En Marche! and Le Pen’s Front National. Internationally, Le Pen’s success (albeit second to Macron’s) has sent out the most shockwaves, with an Anglo-American public on tenterhooks after Trump’s win and a pro-leave result in Britain’s Brexit referendum waiting to see if another country will fall domino-like to the chaotic, populist right.