The French Presidential election has thrown up something of a conundrum. Nicolas Sarkozy did not lead in the first round, as he was expected to, and that is supposed to send a bad signal to his campaign. On the other hand, as I predicted here in January, The Front National made advances even from the record result they gained under Marine Le Pen's father, Jean Marie. That 19% of the vote is now up for grabs, and the gap between the President and his Socialist challenger is wafer thin.
Francois Hollande has to favourite- he has less hair than Sarkozy (which has often been a signifier in the past- the exact opposite of the US elections), and of course he is leading in the first round.
On the other hand the markets have taken it badly- and even the French might yet balk at the end of the Franco-German motor, which the early exit of Sarkozy might bring in its wake.