Telegraph - The French election has always held significance for Britain, since France is one half of the Franco-German axis that has always been a determining factor in the direction of the European Union (EU).
France, along with Britain, is also the only EU nation capable of projecting military power independently and, as a fellow permanent member of the UN Security Council, works hand-in-glove with the UK in formulating UN resolutions that shape global politics.
For these two main reasons, the occupant of the Elysee Palace has always mattered to the UK. But in 2017 - the era of Donald Trump, Brexit and the rise of populism across the continent - this is now doubly the case.
This mercurial election, in which the establishment parties of the Left and Right appear to have fallen by the wayside, will shape the coming Brexit negotiations and could - if far-right Front National (FN) leader Marine Le Pen wins - even determine the future of the EU itself.
The spectre of Le Pen
With Britain now committed to an exit negotiation with the EU that will define the future of this country for a generation, the prospect of Ms Le Pen becoming French president has the potential to up-end all the preparation for these delicately poised talks.
Ms Le Pen’s FN party is committed to taking France out of the euro and holding a referendum on EU membership if Brussels does not comply with her demands to disband the single currency and end the border-free Schengen travel zone.