Meet the main candidates hoping to be the next president of France

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Elections

Meet the main candidates hoping to be the next president of France

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It's described as the most uncertain election ever in French politics. Ahead of Sunday's voting, here's a look at the main candidates hoping to win the race for the Elysee Palace. If no candidate wins a majority, the two top finishers vie in a runoff on May 7.

  • Emmanuel Macron – the investment-banker-turned-politician

    The 39-year-old could become the youngest ever president of France. If opinion polls prove to be correct, Emmanuel Macron will get enough votes Sunday to advance to the runoff.

    The former investment banker served as economy minister in the last Socialist government and has promised a Nordic-style economic model for France — making spending cuts of 60 billion euros ($64.4 billion) while also implementing a stimulus package of 50 billion euros. Macron is perhaps the most pro-European candidate in this election. The centrist politician is running as an independent. The latest polls project he will finish first on Sunday', but only with about 25 percent of the votes.


    Jean-Sebastien Evrard | AFP | Getty Images
  • Marine Le Pen – the far-right candidate who wants to take France out of the EU

    The leader of the Front National has been neck-and-neck with Macron in the past weeks. She is seen as a threat to old establishment politics, claiming she will take France out of the euro zone and out of the European Union. She has promised to cut taxes and increase social benefits, but her main pledge is to cut immigration by 80 percent. She is calling for a tax on companies hiring foreign workers.

    French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen reacts during a debate organised by the French private TV channels BFM TV and CNews, between the eleven candidates for the French presidential election, on April 4, 2017 in La Plaine-Saint-Denis.
    Lionel Bonaventure | AFP | Getty Images
  • Francois Fillon – the frontrunner no more

    The conservative candidate had everything in his favor to become the next president until allegations over misused public funds emerged and dented his chances. Once the frontrunner, Fillon is placing third in most poll projections ahead of Sunday's vote, but only about 6 percentage points below Macron.

    Fillon is also a strong advocate of reduced immigration and of imposing restrictions to immigrants' social benefits. In economic terms, the member of the conservative Republican Party wants to cut spending by 100 billion euros over five years and to lower taxes for companies and individuals.

    Sylvain Lefevre | Getty Images
  • Jean-Luc Melenchon – the surprise of the election

    The far-left candidate wasn't a well-known figure outside France, but his recent surge in opinion polls raised eyebrows among investors and commentators. If Melenchon were to advance to the runoff, France could be faced with a final choice between the far-right and the far-left.

    Pierre Gattaz, leader of France's main business lobby Medef, described such a scenario as "a catastrophe" and a choice between "economic disaster and economic chaos." Melenchon has pledged to raise public-sector wages and take on more debt to subsidize that. When it comes to Europe, his views are similar to Le Pen's. He wants a renegotiation of European treaties and if the EU weren't to agree, he would quit the Union.

    The head of La France insoumise (Unsubmissive France) is tied with Fillon in the latest polls with 19 percent.

    Anne-Christine Poujoulat | AFP | Getty Images
  • Benoit Hamon - 'vote with your heart'

    Benoit Hamon, who represents President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party, has dropped in opinion polls, failing to find a space between the far-left and the centrist Macron. Hamon is pro-European, even supporting the idea of a minimum wage across Europe.

    He has pledged to reduce the working hours for public sector workers and hire more teachers and medical staff. Amid the lack of support in recent polls, Hamon has asked voters to ignore political tactics and vote with their hearts.


    Aurelien Meunier | Getty Images