French election: When, who, and the likely outcome

Q+A: Is current president François Hollande running again? How many candidates are there?

When is France holding its presidential election?
The first round vote takes place on April 23rd next. If no candidate wins an outright majority, as will almost certainly be the case, a second round run-off between the two leading candidates will be held on May 7th.

How many candidates are there?
The final field is not yet completed but ten people contested the last French presidential election in 2012. A similar number will run this year.

Is current president François Hollande running again?
No. He announced on December 1st that, "in the higher interest of the country", he would not be standing this time. In reality, he was acknowledging that, given his record low approval ratings, he had no chance of winning.

So who are the leading candidates?
Three contenders are considered to be in the running to make the run-off on May 7th: François Fillon (62) of the conservative Les Républicains party; Marine Le Pen (48), leader of the far right Front National; and Emmanuel Macron (39), a former economy minister in the socialist government who leads a new movement, En Marché! (Forward!).


And with Hollande out of the race, who will represent the Socialist Party?
After a first-round primary vote on Sunday, two candidates remain in the contest to represent the socialists in the election, the centrist former prime minister Manuel Valls (54) and the surprise winner on Sunday, Benoît Hamon (49), a left-wing former minister for education. The party's candidate will be selected in a run-off vote next Sunday.

How is the election likely to play out?
Until very recently it was widely assumed that Fillon and Le Pen would make it through to the final vote in May, and that Fillon would win. Macron, however, is running a stronger-than-expected campaign and could force his way into the run-off. Fillon remains slight favourite to win a still-open race.