The current President of France, Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen have emerged as the frontrunners of the presidential election after the first round. But what happens now and when will France declare its President?
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The first round
The first round of the French presidential election took place on April 10. None of the 12 candidates secured more than 50% of the votes, meaning that the top two now go head-to-head in the second round.
Macron secured 28% of the votes with Le Pen following at 23%. Far-right and far-left candidates received over half of the total votes, whilst support for the traditional parties decreased.
It is estimated that around 26% of the French population stayed at home and didn’t vote. This was more than in 2017 but less than the 30% predicted.
What do the polls say?
The polls are now predicting a narrow victory for Macron, although the French elections are famously unpredictable.
Le Pen received her highest ever number of votes in the first round of the elections, so is arguably more popular than ever. She has aimed to widen her appeal in this election, focusing on cost-of-living issues rather than immigration – a change from her previous campaigns.
What happens now?
The two candidates have amped up their campaigning efforts and this will continue over the next week. So far, both have cast aspersions at each other, with Le Pen claiming that Macron has adopted a “policy of social wreckage”. Meanwhile, Macron has said that Le Pen is “someone who tells people what they want to hear when they want to hear it.” He has also warned that France could be the next country to leave the EU under Le Pen.
Cost of living is at the heart of Le Pen’s campaign, and she has pledged to replace property tax with a wealth tax for the rich, as well as abolish income tax for the under thirties. Macron wishes to acknowledge the ‘modern’ French family and proposes to give couples who live together the same tax status as married couples or those in a civil partnership.
A TV debate is due to take place on Wednesday, April 20, which will be crucial. Usually, this involves each candidate answering questions on their manifestos and on France’s challenges in an allotted amount of time. Opinion polls will be released shortly afterwards to declare who ‘won’ the debate.
The French population will then vote again on April 24, with the inauguration ceremony due to take place on May 13.