Voters in a contentious Presidential election are ready choose between a centrist political insider dogged by past problems with the judiciary and a populist, anti-immigration, anti-globalization candidate regularly accused of racism.

No, this is not America's choice; it is France's.

Little wonder then that the U.S.'s oldest ally has watched the race for the White House between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with an acutely personal mix of bemusement and horror. America's woes today, appear fated to be France's problem's next year.

If current polls hold, France's 2018 Presidential election will be a run off between the centre right Republicans' candidate Alain Juppe, a former Prime Minister convicted of political funding irregularities, and the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the Front National.

"It will be the same here as in America," said Bruno, the CEO of a mid-sized tech company. "Le Pen is popular because she tells people that France is broken but if she has solutions she never says them. Nothing will change with Juppe."

The looming repeat in France has turned the U.S. election into something of a proxy battle for the French political establishment who have used their pronouncements on the U.S. candidates to position themselves domestically.

That has led to some unusually forthright commentary.

Donald Trump makes people "want to retch," said French President Francois Hollande earlier this year. Hollande, it should be noted, is unlikely to have to long deal with a Trump White House, should that be the outcome of Tuesday's U.S. election.

The current French President has yet to say if he will run for a second term but is likely to be crushed if he does. Polls suggest he would win as little as 11% support in France's first round of Presidential voting, meaning he won't qualify for a subsequent head-to-head vote between the two most popular candidates.

Not that Trump will find a supporter in the the favorite to take up the French Presidency. "When I see his (Trump's) ignorance about the state of the world, when I see his judgement on Europe and France, I ask our friends, the Americans, to think carefully," said Alain Juppe in a recent interview with radio station Europe 1.

Nicolas Sarkozy, a former President who is hoping to return to France's top job, has also declared his support for Clinton but has a more nuanced view designed to support his barely credible platform as a political maverick.

Trump is a "symptom and not a cause" of a wider democratic malaise, Sarkozy told the France 3 television station over the weekend. "Mr Trump is a controversial demagogue but people believe in him because he says out loud what they cannot." 

At a Cafe near Paris Tuesday the GOP candidate had some qualified support: "Trump, it is cinema, it a role that he is playing," said the Cafe owner Teddy. "Trump is not Le Pen - she hates everyone."

Le Pen, leader of France's far right party the Front National, would disagree.

She has sort to draw parallels between herself and the Republican nominee, notably in terms of her outsider status self-proclaimed straight talking on the problems with immigration and the evils of the European Union.

"Perhaps the common point is that ... we are not part of the system, we depend on no one," said Le Pen in a recent interview aired by CNN. "For France anything is better than Clinton," she added claiming that the Democratic candidate would be a global interventionist who would foment conflict.

In the cafe Tuesday, patrons appeared resigned to conflict of the political sort no matter who is installed in the White House.

"The U.S. election has been incredible, so bad with no policy," said an executive at a an aerospace company. "I hope that we do better but I am not confident."   

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