French presidential elections2022-President Macron and Marine Le Pen will face each other in the runoff

 Centrist Macron bagged 27.8% votes, far right Marine le Pen got 23.2% while far left Jean Luc Melenchon 22% votes in the first round of presidential elections

Centrist French President Emmanuel Macron will face far right Marine Le Pen in the second round of the country's presidential election on April 24. It will be rematch of  their runoff contest in 2017 in which macron defeated le pen. the left candidate Jean Luc Melenchon came third with 22% votes. His supporters blamed voters for giving their ballot to candidates from other lower-polling left-wing parties, including the Greens and the Socialists. 

The first round of the French presidential election has turned out as Macron had hoped, and as he had prepared for a long time. In 2017, Macron won 66% of the vote against Le Pen in the second round. Millions of voters who had voted for Melenchon or Hamon at that time in the first round, mobilised to “block the far right” in the second round. For five years, the Head of State has been aiming for the repetition of this scenario.

Far right Le Pen and far left Melenchon were neck to neck one week before the elections but Le Pen surged ahead in the last week of campaign and finished second. This result is disappointing for the left. the left was expecting to came second and faceoff Macron in the second round. 

The turnout was around 72% the lowest in 20 years. Twelve candidates contested the first round of presidential elections but only three candidates got more than 10% votes . Since none of them received more than 50% of the votes in the first round, the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff on April 24. 

A key event of the night was support collapsing for the traditional right- and left-wing parties that used to run France: the Republicans' Valerie Pecresse came in fifth with around 5% , while the Socialists' Anne Hidalgo came 10th with a record-breaking low for the party at 2% . It is the worst result for Socialists in its history. 

In Paris, real contest was between Macron and Melenchon while le Pen just got 5% votes in Paris region. Macron is seeking to become the first French president to win reelection since Jacques Chirac in 2002. Polls have given him a consistent edge over the rest of the field, but the race has tightened significantly in the past month. 
Leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon came third, with 22% of the vote. He enjoyed a late surge in support and was considered a possible dark horse candidate to challenge Macron.
Who Melenchon's voters choose to back in the second round could decide the presidency, experts say. Melenchon told his supporters that "we must not give a single vote to Mrs. Le Pen," but did not explicitly back Macron. 
A close runoff is expected between Le Pen and President Macron. Macron is slightly ahead at the moment. Polls predict a closely fought second round with one survey projecting Macron will win with just 51% of the vote and 49% for Le Pen. In fact, the gap is so tight that both candidates are within the margin of error to win.
Rightwing Zemmour and nationalist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan were the only contestants to throw support behind Le Pen, directing their voters to back the remaining far-right candidate in the run-off.

Other pollsters gave Macron a better chance, with up to 54%  but that's still much narrower than in 2017, when Macron beat Le Pen with 66.1 percent of the votes.

In past elections, left- and right-wing voters have historically come together to block the far right from power, known as a front republicain. The center-left candidates, including those of the Republicans and the Socialists, have endorsed Macron for the run-off, but it is not clear if their voters will follow. Socialists and Republicans bagged 7% votes in the first round. 

                                                                       Khalid Bhatti 

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