French election results, round one. It's Macron and Le Pen

(3:10) Seems to be a done deal. The reactions are rolling in from around Europe and almost nobody in the establishment community is happy… particularly inside of France. So far the French Foreign Minister has called on everyone to vote for Macron so they can stop Marine Le Pen. Fillon has conceded defeat and is also throwing his support behind Macron.

Meanwhile, at Le Pen’s victory party, people are over the moon and don’t seem to think that the tides are against them.

Rapturous applause and wild cheering broke out as Marie Le Pen fans at her northern redoubt of Henin-Beaumont when they learned she had made it through to the second round of the presidential election.

“She’s the only one who has the solutions to change France,” said one young supporter who gave her name as Amélie.

The crowd waved French tricolour flags and banners saying “Marine Présidente” and sang the national anthem and then chanted “On a gagné!” (We’ve won!).

I still say Le Pen has a mile of rough road ahead of her. Plenty of people didn’t like Macron, but if they have to hold their noses and pick one of these two, the socialist tendencies in France run deep. And that’s what Macron is promising to deliver, only a bit heavier on the socialism than the current administration.

But, as I noted in an earlier update, France has problems. Much of that focuses on terrorism and the shaky economic condition of the EU. Le Pen will force Macron to answer for the status quo and he’s probably not going to have any new answers that will satisfy the disaffected. Will that be enough to put Le Pen in office? Color me skeptical, but in our current era of geopolitical unrest you can’t rule anything out.

(2:20) Interesting bit of analysis on the type of attacks which will be coming Macron’s way from Le Pen.

Mujtaba Rahman, head of Europe practice at the Eurasia Group risk consultancy, said that he now expects a “very competitive” race between Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen.

Speaking to The Telegraph he said: “Although there is relief that at least one mainstream candidate has made it into the runoff, Le Pen will now turn the second round into a referendum on the status quo.

“Macron will be forced to defend immigration, the EU and openness, and these are all things French voters have become more suspicious of in recent years. We now expect a very competitive race over the next two weeks.”

That’s about right. Much like a primary in the United States, Le Pen ran the race she had to run to get to a two person showdown. Now she’ll demand Macron defend everything that French voters have been ticked off about. Still an uphill climb for Le Pen in some regards, but I think it’s going to get lively.

(2:10) Well, that was fast. The Telegraph is saying it’s pretty much a lock for Macron in first and Le Pen in second.

That’s still awfully close, though, so let’s wait until we get a larger percentage of the vote counted before closing this down.

Original article follows:

Right around 2 pm eastern today (when this goes live) the polls will be closing in France and we’ll finally have part of the answer to the big questions over the direction France will take from here. (Some stations closed a bit earlier and the counting actually began around 1:30.) It may well have significant ramifications for the entire EU and the future of “globalism” in Europe. The French use paper ballots and they’re not doing official exit polls this year, so the call will be based on partial counts. Of course, if either of the top two slots turns out to be a real nail biter, we could be waiting well into the evening. We’ll update this thread at the top as we learn more.

One thing we do know to a virtual certainty is that we won’t know who the next president will be tonight. In order to avoid a runoff in June, one of the candidates would need to get a majority of the vote today. Even if the polls were literally off by 100% for any of these candidates they would still come up short.

For what it’s worth, the Telegraph has some live updates going on already and they are claiming to have early projections. This is all based on one media outlet from Belgium which supposedly has the early exit polls. They’re saying that Emmanuel Macron has a “slight” lead with the next three candidates “neck and neck” behind him, which is basically useless information at this point. But if that information holds they’ve got Macron leading Le Pen by just over one percent, meaning they would go into the final round.

With only an hour to go until the results of the French Presidential first round are declared, the initial forecasting and some private polling indicators suggest that the run-off will, as the polls predicted, be between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

So will the French make a hard turn to the right with Marine Le Pen and the National Front? Will they go full bore communist with Jean-Luc Mélenchon? Macron would also be a further left option than the French have embraced for a while. Or perhaps they will go with the safety of what’s more familiar to them and put Francois Fillon over the top. Turnout is reported to be slightly higher than normal today, but nothing really outrageous. Fears that a lot of people might choose to sit out the election haven’t materialized, but if two of the more “outside” candidates go to the runoff those concerns will no doubt be repeated yet again over the next couple of months.