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When is the French Presidential Election 2022? First round results, date of second round, and odds and polls

Opinion polls suggest the final round of the French election between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will be very close

Emmanuel Macron finished top in the first round of the French election and will now battle his far-right rival Marine Le Pen for the presidency in a second vote later in April.

Both candidates scored a higher percentage of votes in the first round than five years ago in the 2017 election.

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The French president scored better than most analysts had predicted, but opinion polls suggest that the final round (Sunday 24 April) will be very close.

His challenger, Ms Le Pen, rallied her supporters, championing it was time for a "great changeover" to "put France back in order".

First round results

With 97% of results counted, Mr Macron had 27.6% of the vote, Ms Le Pen 23.41% and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon scored 21.95%.

Twelve candidates were in the running, but these were the only three who polled more than 10%.

Many voters appeared to embrace the idea of tactical or "useful" voting, deciding that the other nine candidates had no hope of making the run-off.

The far-right polemicist Eric Zemmour came fourth at 7.05%.

Mr Mélenchon warned his supporters to “not give a single vote to Marine Le Pen” but he did not back the president either.

His voters make up more than a fifth of the vote and could decide the final round of this election.

However, many of them may just sit the second round out and abstain.

This presidential election will partly be remembered for the fall of the two old parties that used to run France, the Republicans and Socialists.

They obtained hardly any support with Socialist Anne Hidalgo falling below 2%.

Polls for second round

Ifop pollster François Dabi said his company has predicted a 51%-49% estimate for the second run-off - in favour of Mr Macron - with this being the closest they have ever predicted.

Meanwhile, an Elabe poll put the gap at 52%-48% - again, in favour of the French president.

One in four young voters backed the president, although more than one in three 18-24 year-olds opted for Mr Mélenchon, according to Elabe pollsters.

Ms Le Pen performed best among 35-64 year-olds, while the president was favoured by over-65s.

Odds for second round

Ms Le Pen will be hoping she can syphon off most of the supporters of the other two right-wing candidates, Mr Zemmour and Ms Pecresse, who polled just below her.

Ms Le Pen should be able to count on supporters of Mr Zemmour, whose more hardline nationalism won him fourth place, while Nationalist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan has also backed her candidacy.

Mr Macron’s team is planning a series of big rallies and major TV appearances.

Most of the other candidates on the left have backed him, but one-time Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal said the president now had to "earn" victory.

What is Macron’s campaign?

Mr Macron had only started campaigning eight days before the vote, focusing more on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Following his first-round win he promised to work harder than in the first part of the campaign.

"When the extreme right in all its forms represents so much of our country," he said, "we cannot feel that things are going well."

He addressed Ms Le Pen’s voters, saying: "I want to convince them in the next few days that our project answers solidly to their fears and challenges of our time."

He said he wanted a France that made alliances with great democracies to defend itself and not a state that would leave Europe.

He also said he did not want France to be a state that only had populists and xenophobes for allies.

He told supporters: “Don’t be mistaken, nothing is decided, and the debate we’ll have in the next two weeks will be decisive for our country and for Europe”.

From Mr Macron’s speech it is clear he planned to target Ms Le Pen’s close links with the Kremlin.

Ms Le Pen has condemned Vladimir Putin’s war but is known to have visited him before the previous election in 2017 and her party took out a Russian loan.

What is Le Pen’s campaign?

Ms Le Pen is the second most popular candidate after Mr Macron and told her supporters it was time for a "great changeover" in France on 24 April.

She said: "Either division and disorder, or a union of the French people around guaranteed social justice."

She has built her campaign around the cost-of-living crisis, promising to cut taxes and waive income tax for under-30s.

She wants a referendum on restricting immigration, radical change to the EU and a ban on the Islamic hijab in public areas.

Ms Le Pen called on every non-Macron voter to join her and "put France back in order".

How does the election work?

The first round is open to all candidates provided they have received 500 signatures from national or local elected officials.

If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the first round then voting proceeds to a run-off between the two most popular candidates.

The candidate who receives the most votes in the run-off will become President of the French Republic.

This will take place approximately one month later at an inauguration ceremony.

This year the inauguration ceremony is expected to take place on 13 May 2022.