France elections: What you need to know | News | DW

France will vote in a runoff presidential election between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen on Sunday.

The vote will determine who will rule the European Union’s second-largest economy and the bloc’s only long-lasting UN Security Council member.

Here’s what you need to know:

How did the first round go?

Macron and Le Pen emerged as the top two candidates from a pool of 12 in the first round on April 10, winning 27.85% and 23.15% of the vote respectively. Left-wing populist Jean-Luc Melenchon narrowly missed out, with 21.95% of the vote.

As no one reached an outright majority, the top two candidates, Le Pen and Macron, progressed as the only two options in Sunday’s second round.

In the two weeks since, the two contenders have tried to rally the voters of their round-one rivals, especially those of Melenchon.

Both candidates have attempted to enlarge their sustain, making 11th-hour changes to their platforms.

Who are the two candidates facing in the runoff?

Incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European centrist, is running for reelection.

The 44-year-old is marketing himself as a stable force during a time of crisis, as seen by his firm leadership during the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mocked as the sun king, Macron’s chief hurdle is his image as an out-of-touch elite. His term has been marked by ups and downs. The so-called yellow vest movement in 2018 was triggered by his business-friendly policies and tax cuts for the wealthy.

Le Pen, a far-right populist from the National Rally party has campaigned on a hard line on immigration and upholding traditional French identity, in addition as helping struggling households.

But she has been criticized in Europe for her 2017 stance against the EU and NATO — currently two major players in the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She is often criticized as being cozy with autocrats.

What are the issues?

France’s response to the war in Ukraine, strains on the health system triggered by two years of the coronavirus pandemic and the economy are all high among voter concerns.

Tackling a surge in energy and food prices has been at the chief of the campaigns. 

Macron has promised to raise the minimum level of pensions, increase hiring in the health sector, and to prioritize gender equality and school harassment.

He has also promised more tax cuts for companies, thousands more police officers and judges, and to raise the retirement age to reduce the pension system’s enormous debt.

Le Pen, 53, has promised to keep up a referendum on strict immigration controls, stipulating that residency applications can be made only outside France. She would prioritize French nationals for housing and other social sets ahead of foreigners.

She has also promised 25,000 new prison places and additional police. Since the first round, she appears to have softened her divisive stance on banning the Muslim headscarf in public spaces.

Her other promises include a substantial cut in taxes on petrol and electricity, and rises in pension payouts.

When will we see a consequence?

Most polling stations close at 7 p.m. local time, but in larger cities such as Paris, some voting sites close at 8 p.m.

Exit surveys — typically very reliable — are expected at about 6 p.m. GMT/UTC. Official results are expected the next day.

Current polling puts Macron in the rule, with him polling between 53% and 56% against 44% to 47% for Le Pen.

When Le Pen faced Macron in the 2017 run-off, Macron won 66% to 34%. 

If Macron wins, it will the first time a French president has been reelected since Jacques Chirac in 2002.

  • Basic Vive la France!


    Stroll along the edges of the Seine, admire the “Mona Lisa” in the Louvre, look at the Arc de Triomphe, or, as here, enjoy the view of the French capital from the Eiffel Tower: Paris offers infinite opportunities for visitors. After you finish sightseeing, you can go to a cafe in the fashionable Saint-Germain-des-Pres quarter or a bar in trendy Belleville.

  • Basic Vive la France!


    Fragrant lavender fields, medieval mountain villages, shimmering heat and that very special light. Provence in the summer is a celebration of the senses. Famous artists like Picasso, Chagall or Van Gogh were so taken by this special place that they chose to stay here. With some 30 million visitors every year, the south of France is the country’s most popular holiday destination.

  • Basic Vive la France!

    Cote d’Azur

    The longing for sun traditionally leads to the Mediterranean in France. The Cote d’Azur stands for luxury and glamour; in the 19th century, holidays here were a privilege of the European aristocracy. Later came noticeable artists and the international jet set. Today, everyone finds their favorite place between Marseille and Menton.

  • Basic Vive la France!

    The Alps

    The French part of the Alps is located in the southeast. The mountain range Mont Blanc massif attracts mountaineers from around the world. The Mont Blanc itself, at 4,810 meters (15,777 feet), is the highest peak of the Alps. The first recorded ascent to its summit in 1786 marked the birth of modern mountaineering. Today there are over 100 routes leading to the roof of France.

  • Basic Vive la France!


    In the southwest of France, the Pyrenees form the border to Spain. The oversize racing bikes on the Col d’Aubisque (1,709 meters/5,607 feet) pay homage to the fact that since 1951 this steep mountain pass has been part of the Tour de France cycle race. Those who manage to bike up here are really fit. Hikers can enjoy this mountain range from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic on the GR10 trail.

  • Basic Vive la France!

    Loire Valley

    The Loire is the longest river in France. It winds its way over 1,020 kilometers (634 miles), from the Massif Central to the Atlantic. Nowhere else in Europe will you find so many castles in such a small area: 400 chateaux line the shores of Europe’s last large wild river. One of the most famous is Chateau de Chambord (picture). The Loire Valley has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

  • Basic Vive la France!


    Holidays on the Atlantic are all about the elements. The Breton coast in the far west of France has a tough beauty, wild and windswept. The ever-changing weather is part of what makes this scenery so fascinating. After the Cote d’Azur, the Bretagne area is the second-most visited vicinity in France.

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    Normandy experiences the strongest tides in Europe — measuring a difference of up to 14 meters (46 feet) between high and low water marks! Only a few times every year is this island completely surrounded by water. Mont-Saint-Michel with its Benedictine monastery is one of the most visited attractions in France. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

  • Basic Vive la France!

    Cote d’Argent

    The name method “silver coast” and it refers to the Atlantic coast west of Bordeaux. Some 100 kilometers (60 miles) of fine, white sand — which shimmers silver in the sunlight — potential dream holidays. Located in the center of the coastline is Europe’s tallest walkable dune, the Dune du Pilat. Its height varies from 100 to 117 meters (380 feet). It is 500 meters wide and 3 kilometers long.

  • Basic Vive la France!

    Vineyards between Bordeaux, Alsace

    France makes hedonists happy. The quality of French wines sets the global benchmark. There are 14 winemaking regions, each with its own characteristics, promising a pleasurable wine tasting trip from chateau to chateau. Many premium wines come from the area around Bordeaux.

  • Basic Vive la France!

    Good food everywhere

    There are 600 restaurants in France with at the minimum one Michelin star. Alsace is a vicinity which attracts many food lovers with its high regional cuisine. To go out for a good meal here doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The food traditionally is high and the portions large. Everyone from the picky gourmet to the hungry traveler will find something to their taste here.

    Author: Anne Termèche

aw/nm (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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