Marine Le Pen yesterday.(Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)

As expected, in the first round of France’s presidential elections yesterday, centrist Socialist François Hollande came in first, center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy came in second, and neither achieved a majority, meaning the two will meet head-to-head for all the Tostitos on May 6. The Front National’s Marine Le Pen came in third, as expected; but she got more than three percentage points higher than where she was polling (indicating that some supporters were ashamed to tell pollsters they were supporting her), taking 18.2 percent of the overall vote. This is the FN candidate’s highest take ever—higher even than what Jean-Marie Le Pen received in 2002, when he came in second place in the first round.

Given the party’s pedigree, this should be troubling. Still, cousin-of-The Scroll Art Goldhammer is relatively sanguine: “the Brown Shirts are not about to sit in the Chancellery,” he writes. On the other hand, Le Pen is only 43, and she clearly understands that she’s playing a long game: “The first round isn’t the end but the beginning,” she said yesterday, triumphantly (despite, again, not making it to the runoff and failing at becoming president). “Whatever happens in 15 days, the battle of France has just begun.”

Word is that eight in 10 of Israelis eligible to vote supported Sarkozy, which is an indication of where the National Assembly’s eighth constituency will go. And cousin Arthur sends along a report that “40% pour Hollande à New-York contre 30% pour Sarkozy.”

Hollande and Sarkozy Head to Runoff in French Race [NYT]
The Morning After [French Politics]
French Far Right Soars in Presidential Vote [AP/Vos Iz Neias?]
8 Out of 10 French-Israelis Voted Sarkozy [Times of Israel]
Earlier: France Prepares to Elect a New President
Right-Wing French Candidate Looks to Climb