Macron's first-round win is centrist François Bayrou's revenge

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History has a long memory. The upheaval caused by the first-round vote in the French presidential election is the third act in a drama that began in 2007. The fourth act will be the likely success of Emmanuel Macron in the second round and his election as French president on May 7th. Hubert Huertas says Macron's triumph would also represent a final victory for centrist politician François Bayrou who tried but failed to break the two-party stranglehold on French politics a decade ago.

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When politicians were preparing for the the 2007 French presidential election, the memories of the previous poll five years earlier were still fresh in the memory. That was when the cosy automatic Left-Right revolving door of power at the summit of the French state had been rudely interrupted by far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen making it through to the second round instead of the socialist contender Lionel Jospin. Until then the changeover of power between the two sides had taken place with smooth regularity. The Socialist Party (PS) had won the presidential election in 1981, the centre-right had won Parliamentary elections in 1986, the PS had retained the Elysée in 1988, the centre-right headed the Parliamentary polls in 1993 and then followed this up with the Elysée in 1995, before the Left took back control of the French Parliament in 1998.