Guiding you through the French presidential election: steering into the fog

by Angie Charbonneau


In this article, RPP guides you through and helps you understand what the policy environment will be in the coming months. We give you a clear explanation on the main aspects of the French presidential election: the organisation, the candidates, the opinion polls and an insight on how the election could impact the French presidency of the Council of the European Union. We hope that after reading this, the inner workings of this political moment will become clearer to you. Enjoy your reading!


How is the presidential election organised?

Next year, the presidential election will take place in April. There will be two voting rounds, the first on 10th April, the second one on 24th April. It is a direct universal suffrage which means that everyone over 18, and registered to vote, can vote. To be elected, the candidate must obtain more than half of the cast votes (blank votes do not count). If there is no candidate elected on the first round, another round is held with the two candidates who obtained the more votes on the first round.

Are there too many candidates?

One may indeed get this feeling from seeing the list of candidates: there are a strong competition for the presidential election! Indeed, in France, anyone can be candidate for presidential election if they respect certain conditions. Among them: being French, over 18 and registered to vote. In addition, the potential candidates must get 500 nominations from MPs or local elected representatives. To put this figure in perspective, there are over 42,000 representatives allowed to support a candidate. Now, one can better understand why there are so many candidates running for the presidential election in April 2022.

21 candidates running for presidential election, and some are still to be elected or to be announced!

The particularity of the upcoming election in France is that the historical right-wing party, Les Républicains (LR) and the historical left-wing party, the Parti Socialiste (PS) are weakened and fragmented. Moreover, other small political parties, apparently from the same political side, such as La France Insoumise (PC, far left) and the Parti Communiste Français (PCF, the French communist party) do not agree with each other. As a result, each political party organises its own primaries or nominates a candidate within the party. And, if this was not enough, there are plenty of small political parties who also nominate a candidate and political personalities who declare themselves candidates but with no party support.

Holding primary elections is not compulsory. So far, only the green party (EELV) and the right-wing party (LR) have decided to organise one. On 27th September, Yannick Jadot won the primary elections of the green party (EELV). The right-wing party (LR) will organise a vote in congress on 4th December and only party members will be allowed to vote. The candidates for Les Républicains are:

  • Michel Barnier, former Brexit negotiator and minister.
  • Eric Ciotti, MP for the Alpes-Maritimes department.
  • Philippe Juvin, mayor of Garenne-Colombes and head of emergency services in the European hospital Georges Pompidou, also former MEP.
  • Denis Payre, leader of the “Nous Citoyens” (“Us Citizens”) movement.
  • Valérie Pécresse, former minister and President of the Ile-de-France region.

Xavier Bertrand, is also candidate and on the right side of the political spectrum but not an official member of Les Républicains. The winner of the congress vote will have to face him as well, as he will probably not abandon the run for presidential election even if there is a candidate supported by the historical right-wing party.

The current candidates to the presidential office supported by a party are:

Nathalie Arthaud, teacher and former local elected representative (far left)

François Asselineau, he worked in the Ministry of economy and finance in 2004 (right)

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, former mayor of Yerres and former MP for the Essonne department (right)

Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris (left)

Yannick Jadot, MEP and former campaign director for Greenpeace France (green)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, former senator and MEP, is actually MP for the Bouches-du-Rhône department (communists)

Marine Le Pen, former lawyer (far right)

Florian Philippot, ex vice-president of Marine Le Pen’s party and former MEP (far right)

Jean-Frédéric Poisson, boss of a company and former mayor of Rambouillet (right)

Philippe Poutou, former trade unionist CGT at Ford company (communists)

Fabien Roussel, MP of the Nord department and journalist (communists)

There are other candidates who do not have party support:

  • Arnaud Montebourg, has no party even if he was member of the left-wing party the Parti Socialiste before.
  • Marie Cau, she was the first transgender person to become Mayor.
  • Clara Egger, she is a teacher researcher and leader of the group Espoir RIC formed after the yellow jackets movement.
  • Anasse Kazib, a trade unionist for railway workers (Cheminots sud rail).
  • Alexandre Langlois, former policeman and trade unionist (Vigi.Ministère de l’Intérieur).
  • Jean Lassalle, former member of the centre party (MoDem) and MP for the Pyrénées-Atlantique department.
  • Antoine Martinez, former general in the Air Force.
  • Jacline Mouraud, leader of the yellow jackets movement.
  • Hélène Thouy, member of the Animalist party.

Finally, there are two potential candidates. First, the actual President, Emmanuel Macron, who is going to run for a second mandate but has not declared himself candidate yet, second, Eric Zemmour, a former journalist and far-right politician, who has been very popular in the recent surveys.

What about polls and the French presidency of the EU?

A recent poll made by Harris Interactive for Challenges, published on 28th September, shows the voting intentions for the presidential election. For the first round Emmanuel Macron is leading with 23%, followed by the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen (16%), then Xavier Bertrand for the right (14%), Eric Zemmour (who is not officially candidate, 13%) and Jean-Luc Mélanchon (communists, 13%).

For the second round, Emmanuel Macron would be re-elected with 54% of the votes and Marine Le Pen would not be so far behind with 46% of the votes.

Policy Insider statistics in the last 30 days reveals that the #5ansdeplus is high in the Hashtags trends even though Emmanuel Macron has not declared his candidacy yet. His party is indeed already campaigning for him. The #Zemmour is in seventh position of the hashtags most used by deputies. La France Insoumise MPs are also very active on Twitter, with a total of 494 Tweets for Jean-Luc Mélenchon and 690 Tweets for Adrien Quatennens.

As you may know the running for presidential election will take place during the French presidency of the Council of the European Union. Obviously if the current President is not re-elected it could weaken the French presidency of the EU. In the meantime, the national political considerations and topics that seem important for the presidential election are somehow translated in the political priorities for the French presidency of the EU such as social dumping, support to innovation and start-ups and climate change.

A few tips to keep yourself informed about the French elections

For almost 20 years, RPP has been involved in political communication and influencing strategy, with a unique expertise in healthcare policy. As your public policy goals might be impacted by the presidential election in France, we could help you understand this political time and maximise your impact on the French political agenda.

Policy Insider could also be a good tool to keep yourself up to date with candidates Twitter activity and to know who is the most active and followed. There will also be insightful articles on the topic coming up soon. Stay tuned!


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