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France's mold-breaking presidential election
May 5, 2017 / 12:27 PM / in 7 months

France's mold-breaking presidential election

PARIS (Reuters) - French voters go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president, choosing between a centrist who has never held elected office and a veteran of a far-right party that was once regarded as a pariah in French politics.

It will be the first time since the Fifth Republic was founded nearly 60 years ago that the presidential run-off has not included a politician from the center-right or center-left parties.

Here is a timeline of the main events in an election that has stood modern French politics on its head.

Nov 16, 2016 - Former economy minister Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist, launches his bid for president.

Nov 20, 2016 - Voters unexpectedly kick ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy out of the primary ballot for the center-right party, The Republicans, in the first round.

Nov 27, 2016 - Former prime minister Francois Fillon wins the second round of the center-right primaries to become The Republicans’ candidate, beating favorite Alain Juppe, whom opinion polls had seen as France’s next president.

Dec 1, 2016 - Socialist President Francois Hollande announces he will not seek a second term, the first time since the Fifth Republic was created in 1958 that an incumbent president has not sought a second mandate.

Jan 25, 2017 - Prosecutors open a probe after investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaine reports that Fillon paid his wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros as his parliamentary assistant for work it says she did not do. Fillon denies wrongdoing.

Jan 29, 2017 - Leftwinger Benoit Hamon wins the Socialist primaries, beating ex-prime minister Manuel Valls, who had for weeks been the favorite.

Feb 1, 2017 - Fillon’s ratings dip under the impact of the payments scandal and Macron overtakes him in opinion polls. Macron is seen qualifying for the second round alongside far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and winning that run-off.

Feb 5, 2017 - Le Pen launches her election campaign with a pledge to protect voters against globalization and hold a referendum on EU membership.

Feb 22, 2017 - Le Pen’s chief of staff is put under formal investigation over the alleged misuse of EU funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

March 14, 2017 - Magistrates put Fillon under formal investigation on suspicion of embezzling state funds, a first for a presidential candidate in France.

March 18, 2017 - Eleven candidates get the go-ahead to run in the election.

March 20, 2017 - Macron is seen as the most convincing in a televised debate among the five top candidates, an opinion poll shows, helping him consolidate his frontrunner status.

April 4, 2017 - Firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon is found the most convincing performer by viewers of a televised debate among the 11 candidates, a snap poll shows, with Macron in second place.

April 7, 2017 - The presidential race tightens in its final weeks with Melenchon and Fillon narrowing the gap on Macron and Le Pen, opinion polls show. They still show Macron winning the election.

April 23, 2017 - Macron wins the first round of balloting with just over 24 percent ahead of Le Pen on 21.3 percent, setting the stage for a decisive second-round clash between the two. The euro soars 2 percent on the news when markets open in Asia.

April 23, 2017 - A Harris survey sees Macron winning the May 7 runoff by 64 percent to 36 percent for Le Pen.

April 23, 2017 - Two beaten candidates, Francois Fillon of the center-right and Benoit Hamon of the Socialists, both say they will vote for Macron in the runoff.

April 24, 2017 - Le Pen’s camp launch immediately into campaigning, accusing Macron of arrogance for holding a first round victory party at a Paris brasserie. Le Pen accuses him of being weak on fighting Islamist terrorism.

April 24, 2017 - Outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande urges people to vote for Macron.

April 26, 2017 - Le Pen upstages Macron by visiting striking workers at a white-goods Whirlpool factory near Amiens in northern France. One opinion poll shows her slightly improving in ratings against her rival.

April 27 - Macron angers Poland by saying he would push for EU sanctions against Warsaw if he were elected president.

May 3, 2017 - Macron is seen as the more convincing performer in an ill-tempered television debate with Le Pen in which the two trade angry and, at times, personal barbs on the euro and terrorism as they clash over their vision of France’s future.

May 4, 2017 - Macron accuses Le Pen of spreading lies and being behind allegations, which he denies, that he holds an offshore bank account.

May 5, 2017 - The last opinion polls before campaigning officially ends show Macron winning the election with 62 percent of the vote.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Richard Balmforth; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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