Macron, a 39-year-old former banker, won 24 percent of the votes in the first round of the election Sunday, while Le Pen took 21.3 percent of the votes. People will return to the polls on May 7 to choose which of the two candidates, and their vastly different world views, they want for the future of their country. But a lot happens between now and then. Here’s what you need to know.
Who are the two candidates?
The former investment banker has promoted both pro-business and socially liberal policies, giving him a centrist appeal that other candidates lacked. However, opponents have criticized him for being a political novice while pointing to unpopular measures he backed during his tenure in government. Among those measures was a law named after him that allowed businesses to open on Sundays and gave employers more negotiating power over workers.
Le Pen, 48, is an anti-European Union politician who has promised to dump the euro as France's currency if she is elected president. Many commentators have drawn parallels between Le Pen and Trump given the similarities in their views on free trade, NATO, and migration. But, unlike Trump, Le Pen comes from a family that has been on the French political scene for decades.
Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, ran for president five times and was the leader of the National Front party until 2011 when his daughter took over. Le Pen went on to distance herself from her father, who had made anti-Semitic remarks. She’s also attempted to recast the party as a serious anti-establishment political force, known more for its Euro-skeptic and anti-immigrant policies than for its historical reputation as xenophobic and racist.
Le Pen steps down as party leader
"Tonight, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the presidential candidate," Le Pen said on Monday.
As a candidate, she often stressed that her ideas and platform were her own, not those of the National Front.