5 charts to help you read the French presidential election – POLITICO

The countdown is on for the biggest election in Europe this year. On April 10, French voters head to polling stations to decide whether to grant Emmanuel Macron a second five-year term as president. Local pollsters survey the public daily, producing huge amounts of data which, when aggregated, provides much-needed insight into the likely outcome – and indicates whether there are still any potential wild cards that could trigger a surprise. POLITICO tracks all the polls and we’ve calculated the numbers for you in the five points below.

1. Macron is the clear favourite, but…

Data on voting intentions in the first (April 10) and second (April 24) rounds of the election provide very clear trend lines for the leading candidates. The two top-ranked candidates in the first round qualify for a head-to-head a fortnight later. Macron, the incumbent, is well ahead in all polls for the first round. But, but, but… her latest bounce in the polls is starting to fade, and far-right National Rally candidate Marine Le Pen has scooped up voters from her upstart rival Eric Zemmour, whose campaign appears to be faltering. Macron’s overall lead has therefore narrowed slightly.


For more survey data from across Europe, visit POLITICS Survey of surveys.

2. Ukraine is cause for concern, but so are other issues

Trying to determine what voters are concerned about as an election approaches and what are the main issues that lead them to say they will vote for a particular candidate can be difficult to gauge. Often the answers to surveys depend a lot on the wording of the questions. French voters give very different answers when asked to name a) the biggest challenge facing the country and b) the most important issue for them ahead of their vote. It is widely feared that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses a threat to security and stability. He is therefore given a high priority in terms of the challenges facing France – and history suggests that would favor the incumbent, particularly one who tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from go to war. But national perennials such as the economy — especially the rising cost of living — and social issues loom larger when it comes to choosing a president.

3. Abstention is set to hit a new high

Although interest in the election campaign itself was no less than in previous years, more voters than ever said they planned to stay home on election day. The lowest first-round turnout in recent years was 71.6% in 2002, which helped far-right instigator Jean-Marie Le Pen make a stunning breakthrough in the second round against Jacques Chirac.

4. Could there be an upset?

While the poll numbers suggest it’s all over for Macron’s challengers, it may be premature to totally ignore a shake-up somewhere down the line. Supporters of leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon seem uncertain who they would vote for in the second round if, as seems likely, their candidate falls in the first round. A consolidated conservative and far-right vote as well as high abstention rates could be a recipe for a surprise.

5. Runoff scenario: a repeat of 2017?

For now, the April 24 run-off is set to pit Macron against Le Pen, a repeat of the 2017 election. And the outcome will likely be the same too, according to the polls. Macron has a secure lead in all polls regarding second-round voting intentions, regardless of his opponent.


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