French election: All the candidates and where they stand in the polls

Eric Zemmour points gun at reporters during an arms fair

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Would-be candidates standing in France’s upcoming presidential election have until March 4, 2022, to present 500 signatures of elected officials backing their run. In 2017, when Emmanuel Macron won the race, 11 candidates were on the official ballot, and a similarly crowded race is looking likely this time.

How does it all work?

French elections work in a two or three-step process.

First are the party primaries, where each party must choose a single candidate to endorse for the run.

Then the first round of public voting begins, to be held on April 10.

In the likely event that no candidate emerges with an overall majority in the first round, the top two candidates will head into a run-off, due to be held on April 24.

The winner of the run-off takes the presidency.

Who are the potential candidates?

The list of candidates will change as we head into the primaries next year, but here is the current working list, with party affiliations listed next to names:

  • Emmanuel Macron – La République en Marche
  • Marine Le Pen – Rassemblement National (National rally)
  • Xavier Bertrand – Independent
  • Valérie Pécresse – Independent
  • Michel Barnier – Les Républicains (Republicans)
  • Eric Zemmour – Independent
  • Jean-Luc Mélenchon – La France Insoumise (Unbowed France)
  • Yannick Jadot – Ecologistes (Greens)
  • Anne Hidalgo – Socialists
  • Nicolas Dupont-Aignan – Debout La France (Arise France)

What are the polls predicting?

Polling across the board is widely expected a run-off between Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen.

Mr Macron is expected to win another term in office – but this is no guarantee.

The current president himself is proof of the potential for an upset, shaking up the political scene in 2017 when he ran without the backing of a major party and won.

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Ms Le Pen, on the other hand, has been hard at work trying to sanitise the image of her anti-immigration far-right party.

This is her third bid to become president, and her persistent popularity is worrying for those toward the left.

This week, another far-right candidate entered the already full fray, in the form of TV pundit Eric Zemmour.

Mr Zemmour took to social media to announce his intention to run, saying he planned to take “destiny in his hands” as “now is not the time to reform France anymore, but to save it”.

The former journalist, who has been likened to Donald Trump for his populist politics and divisive rhetoric, said he wanted to “make French people feel French again and not like foreigners on their own territory”.

At the end of the 15-minute video, he unveiled his brand-new campaign website for 2022 which highlighted his five policy priorities for France: identity, education, taxes, industry and independence.

His candidacy, while expected, was rumoured to have been harmed last week when he was photographed giving the finger to a member of the public during a visit to Marseille that had been marred by protests.

The candidate is polling behind Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen on 14 percent, still making him the third-biggest contestant in today’s polling.

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