Published May 23, 2017
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 and two outsiders capture the public's support.
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 — President Francois Hollande, the country's least popular leader since World War II, announces he won't stand for a second term. Hollande says: "What's at stake is not a person, it's the country's future."
December 2016 — Emmanuel Macron's startup-style centrist 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. Prosecutors open a probe into the allegations. His campaign starts to stutter.
Jan. 29 — Benoit Hamon wins Socialist Party presidential ticket, 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 leader Jean-Luc Melenchon surges in polls.
April 23 — Macron, with 24 percent, and Le Pen, with 21 percent, qualify from the first-round ballot for the winner-takes-all 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 and exchange insults in ill-tempered prime-time TV debate.
May 7 — Runoff vote.