Macron, Le Pen Heading to Run Off In French Election

The results of the French election are in: it's a run off between far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, both the Guardian and BBC report. 

The run-off will be held on May 7.

There were 11 candidates vying to be France's next president, and the four leading candidates were so close in the polls that forecasting a winner was risky. 

The four front runners came from across the political spectrum: Far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melechon; pro-business, socially liberal centrist Macron; center-right conservative Francois Fillon; and Le Pen, a populist leader on the far right.

As the New York Times reported, "The potential outcomes are just as broad."

Depending on who wins, France could seek to leave the European Union and recast security alliances with a tilt toward Russia. Some would have France take harsher stands on Muslims, immigration and domestic security. Alternately, France may elect a president who wants to shrink the ranks of civil servants, eliminate some job protections and reduce France’s generous welfare state, making the country more competitive in the global economy but risking a popular backlash. Yet another possibility: a winner who aspires to sharply increase taxes on the rich and nationalize banks.

Concerns over terrorism were seen as key in the election.  

On Thursday, a police officer in Paris was killed by French national Karim Cheurfi, an attack which ISIS later claimed responsibility for.  Observers predicted the incident would nudge voters toward candidates seen as tough on crime and terrorism, issues that candidates like Le Pen and Fillon have connected to the need to take a hard line on Muslim immigration, according to the New York Times

The Financial Times notes: "After the UK chose Brexit and Donald Trump took the White House, France’s choice of its next president could bring more populist upheaval to global politics and decide the fate of the EU and the euro."