Pro-Europe centrist Macron won the poll on nearly 24 percent, with the EU-hostile far-right Front National leader Le Pen on 21 percent, both beating the traditional left and right-wing parties.
The result is a “profound change” for France after the country's two historically largest parties, the Socialists and the Republicans, were “crucified,” said Geneva paper Le Temps.
Neither will be represented in the second round for the first time during the Fifth Republic.
“The rage towards traditional parties, disillusion with corrupt politicians and the desire to try ‘something else'” were the motivations that led to the qualification of two personalities with very different visions, it wrote.
Macron's “incredible political gamble” equates to “a political reconstruction unprecedented in the Fifth Republic... the move towards a parliamentary majority of compromise appears on course.”
“The expected political earthquake has taken place,” agreed the Tages Anzeiger, saying the result shows the “annoyance of the French electorate with established politics and their dissatisfaction with economic and social conditions” .
While Macron is the clear favourite going into the second round, “the experience of Brexit and Donald Trump warns caution,” said the paper.
Switzerland's neighbour now faces “huge uncertainty” according to Geneva Liberal-Radical MP Christian Lüscher.
Speaking to news agency ATS on Sunday he said he “feared for France” and also for the consequences for Geneva's housing market “which could shoot up” if an exodus of disappointed French decide to move to Switzerland.
Macron, whose En Marche! party has only existed for a year, must now show his cards, added the Swiss MP.
Both Lüscher and MP Dominique de Buman saw the events as ushering in a ‘sixth republic' after the abject failure of the traditional left and right parties that have dominated French politics since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958.
“Poor France,” concluded Geneva MP Celine Amaudruz, who told ATS she didn't know how Macron could govern without a parliamentary majority.
The second round takes place on May 7th.
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