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Presidential Candidates 2017

Round 2


The two top candidates face each other in a second run-off, on Sunday, May 7. 

French elections always take place on a Sunday.

The far-Right firebrand: Marine Le Pen

Her father, Jean-Marie, was a racist and a convicted holocaust denier who showed more interest in rabble-rousing than leading the FN into power.

But Marine Le Pen, a former lawyer with a steely blue-eyed glare, is taking the far-Right group in a decidedly different direction.

nce a neoliberal club for churlish business owners under Jean-Marie, who led the party for nearly four decades, Ms Le Pen has turned the FN into a movement for the populist era.

Her campaign of "de-démonisation" since clawing the leadership from her father in 2011 sought to soften the party's toxic image.

The gamble appears to have paid off – several polls have put Ms Le Pen in the lead, with speculation that the "Trump effect" could see millions of disillusioned voters pick her over Mr Fillon, the mainstream Right-winger. 

French election pundits, however, say it is unlikely she will win the second round of voting.

The centrist frontrunner: Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron, an ex-banker who has never held elected office, has gone from rank outsider to presidential frontrunner, and is polling to tie with Marine Le Pen in round one and then romp home in the runoff.

He was president François Hollande’s eminence grise at the Élysée advising him on economic reform before serving as economy minister from 2014 to last year.

But he angered his former mentor by resigning to create his new centrist party, called "En Marche" ("On the Move"). The presidential hopeful has cast himself as a maverick outsider in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in America.

"I've seen the emptiness of our political system from the inside...I reject this system," he has said, calling for a “democratic revolution”.

The clean-cut pro-business ex-minister, who is married to a divorcee 20 year his senior, insists he is "neither of the Left or the Right" but “for France". The claim has seen a raft of reformist Socialists, including Manuel Valls, the ex-prime minister, backing him, but also centrist leader François Bayrou as well as lower-level Right-wingers.

Staunchly pro-European and pro-business, critics say he talks in empty slogans, with Ms Le Pen accusing him in the first presidential TV debate of having "taken seven minutes to say absolutely nothing". 

As a relative newcomer to the rough and tumble of a French election campaign, his lack of experience will prove to be his main source of appeal, or his downfall, depending on who you ask.