Two of the 11 candidates will advance to the second, decisive vote on May 7.
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A French presidential campaign that's been filled with unprecedented twists and turns still has surprises in store heading into Sunday's first-round vote. With voters in a rebellious mood and many hesitant to the end about their choices, the identities of the two candidates who will progress to a winner-take-all May 7 runoff remain anyone's guess.With 11 contenders – from far left to far right – for the 47 million registered electors to choose from, the election is a high-stakes test for the European Union and for populist leaders who would tear it down. The threat of Islamist extremism after two years of attacks that killed more than 230 people, and with police thwarting what the government said was another planned attack this week, meant the vote was being held under heightened security, with more than 50,000 police and soldiers mobilized for Sunday.Or, alternatively, voters could step back from the brink of such radical change and opt for the more moderate Fillon, a conservative former prime minister, and Macron, an electorally untested former investment banker unknown to voters before his two-year stint as Hollande's business-friendly economy minister.By quitting Hollande's government to run as an independent, Macron also sucked away voters from the Socialist Party's candidate, Benoit Hamon.
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