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The French use a two-round voting system to help pick a winner. In every election where there is a single official to be elected for a given position, the two-round system is used. Candidates can technically win in just one round, but as Business Insider reported, "If no candidate receives an absolute majority of votes during the first round, the two candidates who received the most votes go on to the second round of the election," though no candidate in history has managed to win it on the first go.
The race to the French presidency looks locked between National Front Leader Marine Le Pen, independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and conservative candidate Francois Fillon.
Le Pen, whose father Jean-Marie Le Pen founded the far-right National Front, studied law and eventually became a legal adviser to the party in 1998. During her rise through the ranks, Le Pen worked hard to change the image of the party her father started for the better. As for her own political stance, Le Pen believes in political and nationalistic isolation, but more on that later.
Emmanuel Macron is the youngest candidate on the ballot. While he has experience in politics, serving under President François Hollande as minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Data, he is the only candidate with zero campaign experience, Business Insider reported. Macron is running as the direct opposite of Le Pen as an independent, socially liberal candidate.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Mélenchon is the leader of the "France Insoumise," or Unsubmissive France coalition, which is backed by the French Communist Party, and is a member of the European Parliament for South West France. Mélenchon also ran in the 2012 presidential election, but came in fourth in the polls. Mélenchon may seem eerily politically familiar to Americans in one respect.
Francois Fillon. Despite several setbacks, including the fact that he is under investigation for embezzlement of public funds, Fillon is still hanging around in the top four candidate pile. Fillon has extensive political experience and served as prime minister between 2007 and 2012 under former President Nicolas Sarkozy. However, it may not be his scandals that undo his political career, but rather his apparent lack of a personality.