French presidential election 2022: who are the front runners and when will the polls open?

France will head to the polls this weekend to vote for the country’s next president.

Emmanuel Macron, the current president, is running alongside a host of other candidates.

Here’s what we know about the 2022 race:

How does it work?

The candidates face an initial vote on Sunday, April 10.

If no candidate achieves 50 percent of the votes, as forecast, a second vote will take place on April 24. In this run-off, the two candidates with the most votes compete against each other.

Who are the main candidates?

Mr Macron, the centrist current French President, is running for a second term.

He faces two challenges from the far right: Marine Le Pen for the National Rally Party, against whom he won the last election in 2017, and pundit Eric Zemmour, who faces fines for inciting racial and religious hatred.

Jean-Luc Melenchon far left for La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) and Valerie Pecresse for the Conservative Republicans are also among the key candidates.

Emmanuel Macron is running for a second term

(AFP via Getty Images)

who is still running

Yannick Jadot is running for the Greens, Fabien Roussel for the French Communist Party and Anne Hidalgo, the current mayor of Paris, for the Socialists.

The left-wing extremist Nathalie Arthaud is running Lutte Ouvriere (Workers’ Struggle), Philippe Poutou for the New Anti-Capitalist Party and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan for the Right Debut la France (France arises)

Jean Lassalle, a centrist politician who was once fined for wearing a yellow vest — or waistcoat yellow – in Parliament, has also thrown his name into the ring.

Ballot papers (left to right) for Jean-Luc Melenchon, Anne Hidalgo, Eric Zemmour, Valerie Pecresse, Emmanuel Macron, Yannick Jadot and Marine Le Pen before the first round of the French presidential election

(AFP via Getty Images)

What are the main issues?

The war in Ukraine, energy, economy, retirement age and immigration were high on the agenda.

The current president has vowed to continue investing in the French military and to build on France’s renewable energy capacity.

He also wants to gradually raise the pension from 62 to 65 and at the same time increase the minimum monthly pension. Mr Melenchon wants to lower the retirement age to 60, while Ms Le Pen wants to keep it at 62 and increase the minimum pension.

Opinion polls show that purchasing power is voters’ top concern amid soaring energy prices and rising inflation. This is what Ms. Le Pen focused her campaign on.

Marine Le Pen is aiming for her third candidacy as French President

(Getty Images)

Mr Macron is pushing for restrictive immigration policies, including strengthening the external borders of Europe’s passport-free area and creating a new force to control national borders. The far-right candidates, however, are even tougher.

Ms Le Pen’s plans include social benefits only for French people and deporting foreigners who remain unemployed for more than a year. Meanwhile, Mr Zemmour wants asylum status to be limited to no more than 100 people a year and a military coastguard to be created to stop arrivals by sea.

Both far-right candidates also have policies to ban Muslim headscarves in public places.

What do the polls say?

Mr. Macron emerges as the front runner.

Polls predicted that both he and Ms. Le Pen would receive the most votes in the first round, leading the contest to a second vote.

But the current president’s comfortable lead in polls has eroded over the past week, as far-right challenger Marine Le Pen and Melenchon both made gains. Polls show that nearly half of all voters intend to avoid the center and vote for a far-right or far-left candidate.

It is still being predicted that Mr Marcon will come out on top. But his projected winning margin is much narrower than when he was elected in 2017, and he faces stiff competition from Ms Le Pen, who has toned down her rhetoric – while still trumpeting anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies – and is getting into that day-to-day business. Daily complaints of average voters.

He is expected to win 54 percent of the vote in a second-round runoff against the National Rally candidate, according to an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll on Wednesday.

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