There’s less than a week left for the French Presidential Election runoffs, and it’s round two, where far-right candidate Marine Le Pen will face incumbent political newcomer, Emmanuel Macron. While the candidates remain the same as in the 2017 elections where Macron won by almost two votes to one, this year’s elections are shaping up as entirely different.
The French Presidential run-offs between Emannuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are scheduled for Sunday, this week. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
How the French Presidential Election Works
Voters in France head to the polls to cast their votes twice, in order to elect their new President. The first vote of the 2022 race was held around two weeks ago, on Sunday, April 10th. There were 12 candidates running against each other for the first vote, who qualified for candidacy through receiving endorsements from mayors of France or local councillors.
While Macron and Le Pen both secured the highest number of votes, neither of them received above 50% votes. Hence, the results of the run offs on Sunday will decide a clear winner.
In the final results of round 1, far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon of the France Unbowed party came third with a fifth of the total votes (22%).
Important Dates for the 2022 Presidential Election in France
The runoffs for the French Presidential elections are scheduled for April 24, Sunday. On the evening of Wednesday, April 20, a debate will be held between Macron and Le Pen, which will be broadcast live by major channels like France 2 and TF1.
None of the candidates will be allowed to campaign a day before the runoffs or on Sunday, while strict restrictions will be imposed on media reporters in France from the day before the runoffs, till 8 PM on Sunday, when polls come to a close.
Sneak-peek into the polls
The polls this year display a tighter contest than the 2017 race. Both Macron and Le Pen’s share of votes saw an increase in the first round in comparison to the 2017 elections, although surveys conducted ahead of the first round on 10th April displayed a late spike in support for Le Pen in March.
A poll released by Ifop-Fiducial on April 10 after the first round indicated that centrist Macron would emerge victorious against Le Pen in a second-round with a tiny margin of 51% to 49%. Macron has enjoyed an increased advantage since the first round, but a lot of things might change in the days leading up to the final vote day on April 24, Sunday.
According to political analysts, voters of France vote with their hearts in the first round choosing their ideal candidate, and later use their heads to vote for “the lesser evil” of the two candidates in round two. This is exactly how things played out for Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 race, where in the first round he and Le Pen secured 24% and 21.3% respectively, while Macron gained a landslide victory in the second round with 66.1% of the vote and defeating Le Pen who scored only 33.9%.
In order to win again this year, Macron will most likely have to convince the supporters of Jean-Luc Melenchon to vote for him. Most of the candidates who lost in the first round have directed their support towards Macron, to block the victory for the far right. Melanchon did not openly back Macron, but he did tell his supporters on Sunday to “not give a single vote to Mrs Le Pen”.
More about the Candidates
- Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron is a newcomer in the field of politics, and the 2022 race is only his second political election. He is the eldest of three siblings of a family of doctors and previously worked as a banker. Macron has received his education from some of the most prestigious institutions in France. Even though he had virtually no experience in politics before 2017, Macron became the first to win a presidency in the history of the Fifth Republic without the support of either the Socialists or the Gaullists. Macron is also the youngest head of state since the reign of Napoleon I.
Macron has had several political wins that have gained him respect in France as well as abroad. While you could say that Macron achieved presidential victory in 2017 through sheer luck, it was a factor only in part. Mr Macron was able to foresee an opportunity where no one else could and brought something new and fresh to the political arena in France. Macron’s campaigns were more youth-centric, with brightly lit arenas and pop music. This put him on the better side of the contrast, as compared to his rival Le Pen, whose campaigns featured a much darker and angrier vibe, marked with heavier police presence, and protesters flinging bottles and flares.
According to experts, Macron’s strategy so far has been to stay out of the political mudslinging for as long as possible, to appear more ‘presidential’ than the other candidates. He refused to debate his opponents before the first round and has hardly campaigned as much as his rivals.
- Marine Le Pen
Le Pen can be viewed as the most prominent figure of the far right. She is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the Nation Front, the predecessor party to Marine Le Pen’s current political party. She has run unsuccessfully for president twice before, and this is her third shot. This was her best result of the three rounds.
Le Pen’s party has been branded as racist and anti-Semitic. The two main priorities of her manifesto are to “stop uncontrolled immigration” and “eradicate Islamist ideologies”. In addition, Le Pen is also faced with embezzlement charges ahead of the April 24 runoffs. The European Union’s anti-fraud office OLAF has accused Le Pen of embezzling nearly €137,000, equivalent to $148,000 while holding office as a lawmaker in the European Parliament between 2004 and 2017. This accusation could prove to be another roadblock to Le Pen’s chances of winning the 2022 presidency.