Although the Socialist candidate Hollande led Sarkozy by 29 to 26 per cent the runoff result is far from certain. The runoff betwee Hollande and Sarkozy will take place May 6.
The big surprise was the strong showing of Marine Le Pen who broke her father's record in 2002. The leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon finished far behind in fourth at 11 per cent. Bayrou a centrist candidate managed less than ten per cent at fifth.
Le Pen's policy of reserving jobs for French nationals resonated with many as jobless claims are at a 12 year record high. She also wants to jetison the Euro. Right and left populist parties are surging throughout Europe as austerity programs hurt the people.
Unfortunately for Hollande polls show about half of Le Pen's supporters will vote for Sarkozy and only one fifth for Hollande. Hollande wants to focus on growth rather than austerity measures. However who knows what he will do if elected. The Greek socialist Papandreou implemented austerity measures albeit not well enough to avoid being replaced by a technocrat.
Hollande also promises to raise taxes on the wealthy if elected. For more see this article.