Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron has now overtaken his far-right rival Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential elections, a poll published on Thursday shows.
Far-right candidate Le Pen had been leading the polls for the first round of the elections for months, but over the past two weeks, centrist Macron has garnered more support, especially after endorsements by high-profile politician François Bayrou, and more recently by socialist Bertrand Delanoë, who used to be mayor of Paris.
Macron is now ahead with 26% of the votes in the first round, Le Pen is trailing him by one point at 25%. The conservative candidate François Fillon, who has lost a lot of support recently over a “fake jobs scandal” would be eliminated in the first round with 20% of votes, based on current polls.
Macron is also the overall favourite to become the next French president of France as he is projected to beat Le Pen in the second round of the election by 65% to 35%.
How the French election works
The eventful presidential campaign and high stakes have meant that there is huge interest in the results of the election, but the French election system under the Fifth Republic is quite different from many others as it encompasses two voting rounds. Here’s how it works:
- The election takes place every five years.
- Potential candidates must secure 500 signatures from elected officials, such as mayors and members of parliament, to secure a spot on the ballot.
- The election is then split up into two rounds. In the first round, people can vote for any of the candidates that have gathered the 500 signatures. The number of candidates since 1965 has fluctuated between 6 and 12.
- If no candidate receives an absolute majority of votes during the first round, the two candidates who received the most votes go on to the second round of the election. No candidate in French history has ever secured a majority after just one round of voting.
- French people can then vote for either one of these two candidates. The candidate with the most votes is then confirmed as the new President of the Republic.
The first round of the 2017 election will take place on April 23 this year, while the second round is scheduled for May 7. The inauguration of the new president normally takes place around 10 days after the second round of voting.
In the last elections in 2012, socialist François Hollande won the second round of the election with 51.6% of the votes against outgoing conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy (48.3%). In the first round, which had 10 candidates, Hollande garnered 28.6% of the votes, Sarkozy 27.1% and Marine Le Pen 17.9%.
The top three contenders in 2017 are:
- Emmanuel Macron, an independent candidate, from En Marche.
- Marine Le Pen, from the far-right party Front National.
- François Fillon, from conservative party Les Républicains
Le Pen is expected to lose to either Fillon or Macron in the second round of the election.
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