Results from the first round of the French presidential election are coming in, and centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen are emerging as the top two choices of the electorate.
Since the Fifth Republic moved to a direct popular vote method in 1965, the French presidency has been won by a candidate representing either the major center-right political parties (now represented by the Republicans) or the major center-left parties (now the Socialists).
Meanwhile, Benoît Hamon of the Socialist Party seemed to struggle because of his association with incumbent François Hollande, a Socialist, who had seen record-low approval ratings as the economy remained sluggish and the country was hit by terrorist attacks.
However, the collapse of the mainstream French parties this year also seems to fit into a broader trend of the fragmentation of European political parties, most recently seen in the scattered results of the Dutch parliamentary election in March.
Traditionally, the party that takes the presidency has aimed to take Parliament, too — the periods in which they cannot are known as “cohabitation” in France and tend to feature political deadlock.