While the candidates of the main left and right parties have endorsed the centrist from nowhere, others have held back.
From the Middle East to North Korea, Donald Trump is reasserting US military strength and intensifying the rivalry among the great powers.
The centrist is not the first to succeed from outside the traditional parties in the Fifth Republic.
Whoever leads the country after this conflict comes to an end will inherit not just the rubble and ruins, but a ravaged people, too.
The centrist former economy minister and the far-right leader are set to contest the run-off on 7 May.
With the far right and far left surging in the run-up to a defining presidential election, the French seem intent on blowing up the political establishment.
Tyler Cowen argues that Americans used their new-found wealth and prestige “to dig in”, protect themselves against risk, “and to build and cement a much safer and static culture”.
A last-minute attack, as many feared, can change everything.
A run-off between Le Pen and a scandal-ridden François Fillon suddenly looks worryingly plausible.
“If we were indeed racist, why would we live with the South Indians?" was how one politician addressed the debate.
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