Sunday’s vote will determine whether pro-European centrist President Emmanuel Macron or far-right, anti-immigration Marine Le Pen will rule France for the next five years.
WHO WILL WIN?
Polls point to Macron as the likely winner, but by a much smaller margin than in 2017, when he defeated Le Pen with 66.1% of the vote. A victory for Le Pen cannot be ruled out, even if it is the less likely of the two scenarios.
WHAT WILL BE DECISIVE?
– Who do voters dislike or fear most? Neither candidate has enough diehard supporters to bring them to power. So the key is to convince voters that the other candidate is worse, with Macron tapping into the fears of the far right and Le Pen counting on voters’ disenchantment with her opponent’s record in power.
– The decisions of left-wing voters will be crucial to the outcome. Macron’s style and policies have upset many on the left and he will find it more difficult than in 2017 to win enough of them and keep the far right out of power.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Whoever wins on Sunday has only done so after a bitter, divisive campaign and probably by a small majority.
If Macron wins, he would face a difficult second term, with little to no grace period and voters of all walks of life likely to take to the streets over his plan to push ahead with reforms that promote business, including pensions.
If Le Pen wins, a radical change in French domestic and international policy is expected, and street protests could begin immediately.
Either way, one of the winner’s first challenges will be to win the June parliamentary election.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FOR VOTERS?
– Purchasing power is the main concern of voters, after a huge rise in energy prices and soaring inflation. Le Pen has successfully focused her campaign on the problem.
– The election campaign started during the war in Ukraine. Polls showed an initial boost for Macron, but it has faded.
– Polls show voters are unhappy with Macron’s economic policies, but unemployment is at its lowest level in years and those polled think none of his opponents could do better.
– How Macron dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic could also play a role.
WHEN WILL WE KNOW WHO WON?
– Voting starts on April 24 at 0600 GMT.
– At 1800 GMT, the voting ends, exit polls are published and French TV announces the predicted winner. Official results trickle in during the evening, but the exit polls are usually reliable.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)