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French election polls: who is leading the race to be the next president of France?


France will vote to elect a new president in April, and the jostling for position among potential candidates is well under way. The current president, Emmanuel Macron, has yet to declare his candidacy but is expected to run again. His second-round opponent from 2017, the far-right populist Marine Le Pen, has already launched her campaign. Alongside them on the ballot will be Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist candidate, Yannick Jadot, representing the Green movement, and a candidate from the centre-right, to be chosen by Les Républicains, on 4 December. The far-right TV pundit Éric Zemmour, who has no political party, could declare an outsider bid.

How the process works

How the process to choose a candidate works

Would-be candidates have until 4 March to present the 500 signatures of elected officials supporting their run, which the law requires. Some of the politicians hoping to be candidates will by then have withdrawn from the field, but in 2017 11 candidates were on the official ballot.

A first round is to be held on 10 April, and in the likely event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes, a second round runoff will be held two weeks later, featuring the two leading candidates from the first round.

Polls have shown that the most likely candidates to enter the run-off are Macron and Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally) party.

Who might stand, and how do the polls rate their chances?

  1. Emmanuel Macron

    La République en Marche

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    France’s current president shook up the country’s political scene in 2017 when he ran without the backing of a major party and won. His hastily assembled, centrist République en Marche party went on to win that year’s parliamentary elections too. Macron, a former economy minister under the Socialist president François Hollande, is seen by voters as having leaned towards the centre-right in office.

  2. Marine Le Pen

    Rassemblement National
    (National rally)

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Le Pen has led a public relations drive to try to sanitise the image of the anti-immigration far-right National Front, which she took over from her father in 2011 and renamed the National Rally in 2018. The party’s score in June’s regional elections was lower than predicted after many of its traditional voters abstained. Le Pen, in her third bid to be president, is campaigning on the party’s traditional line of curbing immigration and ‘keeping France for the French’.

  3. Xavier Bertrand

    Independent

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Xavier Bertrand, a former minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, was recently re-elected head of the Hauts-de-France region in northern France. He left the party, Les Républicians in 2017 and had intented to campaign as an outsider who could unite voters on the right, from low-income workers to the bourgeoisie. He recently returned to the fold to take part in the internal party vote on December 4 to choose a candidate.

  4. Valérie Pécresse

    Independent

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Pécresse was budget minister under Nicolas Sarkozy and is currently the president of the Ile-de-France region, which includes the French capital and surrounding area. She argues that it is time for the right to have a female candidate and describes herself as ‘two-thirds Angela Merkel and one-third Margaret Thatcher’, which she says means being tough and economy-focused while building consensus. She is standing in the Les Républicains internal race to choose a candidate on 4 December.

  5. Michel Barnier

    Les Républicains
    (Republicans)

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Barnier was the EU’s lead negotiator on Brexit, and is consequently well-known in Britain, but less so in France. He has returned from Brussels to stand in the race to choose a candidate for Les Républicains. He argues that he has always been loyal to the party and can unite voters on the right. He has presented a hardline on authority, justice and immigration, arguing for a moratorium on immigration and a reassertion of French ‘sovereignty’ in relation to the European court of human rghts.

  6. Eric Zemmour

    Independent

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Zemmour is a far-right TV pundit who has previously been convicted for inciting racial hatred and who promotes controversial views such as the ‘great replacement’ theory that Muslim immigrants will ‘replace’ the populations of European countries. He has no political party and has not yet declared if he will launch an outsider bid.

  7. Jean-Luc Mélenchon

    La France Insoumise
    (Unbowed France)

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Mélenchon is a former Socialist who has stood for various leftwing groupings since leaving the party. He stood in the previous two presidential elections, winning more than 10% of the vote each time, and more than the Socialist candidate in 2017.

  8. Yannick Jadot

    Ecologistes
    (Greens)

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Jadot is the Green candidate. In the presidential election in 2017, he stood down in favour of the Socialist Benoît Hamon.

  9. Anne Hidalgo

    Socialists

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Hidalgo is the first female mayor of Paris and is in her second term. She is best known for her campaign to reduce the number of cars in the French capital. As presidential candidate for the Socialist party, she has highlighted her working-class, immigrant roots, promising to improve salaries, notably for teachers.

  10. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan

    Debout La France
    (Arise France)

    Latest 7-day average (first-round preferences):

    Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the nationalist Debout La France, is a friend and fan of Nigel Farage and supports a French exit from the EU.

Also in contention

The slate also includes numerous other possible runners, most of whom usually fail to poll more than 3% in surveys. They include former Socialist Arnaud Montebourg, Fabien Roussel of the Communist party, Jean Lasalle of the Resistons! (Resist!) party and Nathalie Arthaud of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle).

What about the run-off?

France’s polling organisations also ask respondents how they would vote in a hypothetical second round. For obvious reasons they concentrate on what currently seems the most likely scenario, a re-run of 2017’s Macron-Le Pen vote.

  1. Emmanuel Macron v Marine Le Pen

    This is the core scenario, and therefore the one most commonly polled. Macron’s lead over Le Pen is greater in second-round polling than in responses on first-round choices. In 2017 he inherited over 70% of the other first-round candidate’s votes.



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