French Election: Turning Points in Roller-Coaster Race

PoliticsAssociated Press

PARIS (AP) — France's presidential election reaches its climax Sunday with the winner-takes-all runoff vote between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. The intense, suspenseful and surprising campaign saw prime ministers and presidents losing out in early voting and two outsiders capturing the public's support.

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Here is a timeline of the election:

Nov. 20, 2016 — Former President Nicolas Sarkozy fails in bid to win conservative party presidential ticket, making him the first victim of French voters' deep desire for change.

Nov. 27 — Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon wins conservative party ticket, beating another former prime minister, Alain Juppe.

Dec. 1 — Socialist President Francois Hollande, the country's least popular leader since World War II, announces he won't stand for a second term.

December 2016 — Emmanuel Macron's startup-style centrist presidential campaign begins to gather steam.

Jan. 25, 2017 — Le Canard Enchaine newspaper reports that Fillon's wife, Penelope, was richly paid as a parliamentary aide without actually working. French prosecutors open a probe into the allegations. His campaign starts to stutter.

Jan. 29 — Benoit Hamon wins the Socialist Party presidential nomination, beating former Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Feb. 5 — Far-right leader Marine Le Pen unveils 144-point manifesto, formally launching her campaign.

April 2017 — With Fillon stagnating and Hamon plunging, far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon surges in the polls.

April 23 — Eleven candidates compete in the first round of voting for the French presidency. Macron wins 24 percent support and Le Pen wins 21 percent — meaning they are the two who go into the May 7 presidential runoff. In a first for modern France, neither the mainstream left or right candidates, Hamon and Fillon, advance.

May 3 — More than 16 million viewers tune in to see Le Pen and Macron clash in an ill-tempered prime-time TV debate.

May 5 — Minutes before campaigning halts for a quiet period before the election, the Macron team announces it has been the target of a massive hacking attack that leaked both fake and actual documents. Le Pen's team complains that some ballots with her name on them have been ripped up.

May 6 — A day of reflection in which no campaigning is allowed. French overseas territories begin voting.

May 7 — Runoff vote for the French presidency.