This weekend two heavyweights go head to head and there can be only one winner. 

No it isn’t Fury v Whyte, it’s the French elections as President Emmanuel Macron faces off against Marine Le Pen.

Considering this election is arguably now the most consequential in Europe, it has been pretty quiet overall. Macron is no longer a rockstar outsider and Le Pen has worked to smooth over some of her controversial policies and focus more on policies around economics than just immigration and leaving the EU.

Wednesday evening saw the two face on French TV (makes sense, wouldn’t be much point showing it on ITV3 after a repeat of Heartbeat), seeing as I don’t speak French, I’ve had to rely on what others have said and largely the tone is if you’re not in one of their camps, it was perfectly fine but not lightning in a bottle. 

Macron is still expected to win the run-off thus ensuring the EU, which Le Pen seems to flip-flop back and forth on whether she wants France to leave, lives to fight another day. 

But, before counting chickens (le poulet, I think) let’s take a quick look at the candidates and some of their policies.

Emmanuel Macron

Married his teacher

Set up his own party, En Marche

Centrist, pro-European

Became President in 2017 campaigning as the outsider

Snapshot Policies – Wants to see employers able to give bonuses of up to €6,000 tax free. He also wants to up retirement age to 65, increase teachers’ wages in return for more responsibilities and scrap the TV licence fee.

Marine Le Pen

Took over party from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen

Long term leader of National Rally, formerly National Front

Nationalist/Far right, anti-immigration, questionable policy on EU

Stood for President in 2012, 2017 and 2022, finished third and second in previous years

Snapshot Policies – Proposing major cuts to VAT on fuel and basic goods and an end to income tax for the under-30s. Le Pen also wants to remove all illegal immigrants, foreign nationals with criminal convictions and she wants to ban Islamic headscarves in public. 

How Does the Election Work?

Unlike in the UK and pretty much most of Europe, France holds two votes on two Sundays, two weeks apart.

In theory one candidate could get more than 50% in the first vote and win, but this has never happened. As such, they have a run-off vote where the top two candidates face off against each other.

In France this is regarded as the ‘hold your nose’ vote where many people vote for the candidate they dislike the least.

The polls will close at 8pm on Sunday night, with a result likely to be declared through the night or on Monday morning.