It looks very likely that no candidate will get a clear majority in the first presidential election in France, meaning that a second election will be held next month. But it is uncertain which two candidates will make the run-off, with a poll predicted 25% of voters undecided.
Final polls show four leading presidential candidates so close that any two could go through to runoff in two weeks’ time
It’s not exactly nail biting if the result won’t be known until after a second vote in two weeks.
There are 11 candidates but four seem to have a chance of getting through:
Party: En Marche! (On the Move!). Centrist: liberal economically, left socially
In brief: Fresh, internationally-minded, upbeat
Marine Le Pen
Party: Front National. Far-right.
In brief: Imperious, combative, theatrical, ruthlessly determined; France first.
Party: Les Républicains. Centre-right, conservative.
In brief: Family, faith and the free market; now also alleged abuser of public funds
Party: La France Insoumise (France Unbowed). Radical left
In brief: Power to the people, sharp tongue, fiery oratory, great showman
Only one candidate to the left of centre.
France’s 2017 presidential election has been one of the tightest and least predictable in generations. After the final set of opinion polls on Friday, of four candidates leading the first round any two could conceivably make it to the runoff.
What’s more, up to 25% of voters were estimated to be undecided on the eve of the vote. No one, in short, should be under any illusions: anything could yet happen.
How does France’s system of vote estimates work?
The initial vote estimate in French elections – in use and steadily perfected since 1965 – is based on an actual vote count.
Pollsters select about 200 polling stations around the country, in rural areas, small towns and urban agglomerations, carefully chosen to be as representative as possible of the country as a whole.
When the polling stations close – all are among those that close early, at 7pm – and as the votes are being counted, a polling official records, for a sizeable sample of the ballots, the number of votes for each candidate.
Those numbers are then run through a sophisticated computer program that adjusts them for past results and assorted variables, and produces a national vote estimate. This is not the official result, but nor is it an opinion poll.
It is usually very accurate, to within a percentage point of so – but this being an exceptionally close race, a percentage point may be decisive. So either we will have a reliable result at 7pm, or we won’t.
That must be 7 pm UK time, it is currently 7:48 pm in France (5:48 am NZ) so we may have an idea of how it might be going soon.
That means beware of fake vote estimates on social media.