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France heading to the polls for first round of presidential election

French voters head to the polls as President Emmanuel Macron takes on Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate.

Mr Macron is facing an unexpected threat from Mrs Le Pen ‘s administration. However, many surveys indicate that this is now within the margin of error.

The first round of voting started at 8am (UK time) and ends at 8pm (7pm UK Time). At that point, the first exit polls are published.

Some French nationals who live abroad in America or Canada have already cast their vote.


When and how are the French presidential election?

Image French citizens line up to vote at Washington Embassy.

Wide open

It looked like it would be an easy win for France’s pro-European centrist leader up until two weeks ago.

More about Emmanuel Macron

His late entry to the campaign, with only one major rally, has hurt his ratings. He also focused on an unpopular plan for increasing the retirement age.

While Mr Macron has focused on Ukraine’s war, Ms Le Pen, an anti-immigration Eurosceptic, has spent months focusing on the cost-of-living crisis.

She has been riding on the back of an inflation spike and also received support from Eric Zemmour, her main rival on right-leaning parties.

Ms Le Pen said to her cheering supporters that “we are ready, the French are with me” and urged them to vote for her to give “the fair punishment that those who have governed our country so badly deserve”.

Macron, who is in office since 2017, stated that Ms Le Pen’s fundamentals had not changed. “It’s a racist program that aims at dividing society and is very brutal.

Ms. Le Pen denies racism.

Continue reading: European markets shaken by France’s right-wing gathering steam

Image Ms Le Pen rejects racism

In recent weeks, Mr Macron, the youngest French president, was also criticised for his open dialogue with Vladimir Putin.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s Prime Minister, compared Mr Putin ‘s phone calls to him to negotiating with Hitler.

As a response, Mr Macron labeled the leader of eastern Europe a “far right antisemite who bans LGBT people”.

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February: Putin, Macron meet

What’s next?

This is only the first round of voting. Assuming no candidate wins more than 50% of votes – which has not happened since Charles de Gaulle was re-elected in 1965 – the top 2 candidates advance to the next round.

This second round, which is currently scheduled for April 24, will determine who becomes the president. It is widely believed that the two candidates will be Ms Le Pen and Mr Macron.

The president faces a problem in the second election, however, because many left-leaning voters have indicated to pollsters that they won’t vote for him in order to keep Ms Le Pen from power, unlike 2017

Jean-Daniel Levy of Harris Interactive pollsters said that Ms Le Pen was “never so close to winning a presidency election.”

Jean-Luc Melenchon’s hard-left supporters are third in opinion polls and have asked left-wing voters for support by switching to their candidate to send him to the run-off.


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