France will go 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 will be voted on for the first time on Sunday 10 April.
If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote – as predicted – there will be a second vote on April 24. In this second round, the two candidates with the most votes will compete against each other.
Who are the main candidates?
Macron, the centrist current French president, is running for the second term.
He faces two challenges from the far right: Marine Le Pen for the National Rally party, against whom he fought to win the last election in 2017, and pundit Eric Zemmour, who has been fined for inciting both racial and religious hatred.
Jean-Luc Melenchon far left front La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) and Valerie Pecresse for the conservative Republicans are also among the leading candidates.
Who else is walking?
Yannick Jadot is a candidate for the Greens, Fabien Roussel for the French Communist Party and Anne Hidalgo, the current mayor of Paris, for the Socialists.
Extreme left Nathalie Arthaud runs ahead Lutte Ouvriere (Workers’ struggle), Philippe Poutou for the New Anti-Capitalist Party and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan for the right-wing Debout la France (France comes on)
Jean Lassalle, a centrist politician who was once fined for wearing a yellow vest – or yellow waistcoat – in parliament, has also thrown his name into the ring.
What are the main issues?
The war in Ukraine, energy, the economy, retirement age and immigration were all high on the agenda.
The current president has vowed to continue investing in the French military and building on France’s renewable capabilities.
He also wants to gradually increase the pension from 62 to 65, while the monthly minimum pension is increased. 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’ main concern amid a massive surge in energy prices and rising inflation. This is what Ms. Le Pen has focused her campaign on.
Macron is pushing for restrictive immigration policies, including strengthening the external borders of the European passport-free area and establishing a new power to control national borders. The far-right candidates, however, take an even tougher stance.
Ms Le Pen’s plans include social benefits for the French only and the deportation of foreigners who have been unemployed for more than a year. Meanwhile, Mr Zemmour wants asylum status to be limited to no more than 100 people per year and a coastguard force established 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 predict that both him and Ms Le Pen will win the most votes in the first round, pushing the contest to a second ballot.
But the current president’s comfortable lead in the polls has been eroded over the past week as far-right challengers Marine Le Pen and Melenchon both posted gains. Surveys show that nearly half of all voters plan to shun the center and vote for a candidate on the far right or far left.
It is still predicted that Mr. Marcon will come out on top. But his expected margin of victory is much smaller 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 policies targeting immigrants and Muslims – and using made of daily practice. everyday grievances of average voters.
According to an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll on Wednesday, he is predicted to win 54 percent of the vote in a runoff election against the National Rally candidate in the runoff election.