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POLITICS

Polling dates confirmed for France’s hotly-contested 2022 presidential election

The dates that voters in France head to the polls to pick their new president have been officially confirmed by the French government.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his main rival, Marine Le Pen, both gave TV interviews on Sunday.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his main rival, Marine Le Pen, both gave TV interviews on Sunday. Here's what you need to know. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal on Tuesday confirmed that polling days will be April 10th, 2022, for the first round and April 24th for the second round. As is usual in French elections, both days are Sundays.

The dates had been announced earlier by French TV, but have now been formally confirmed.

French presidents hold a five-year mandate and elections are on fixed dates – as in the USA – rather than called by the Prime Minister as is the case in the UK.

READ ALSO Five minutes to understand France’s 2022 presidential election

French voters head to the polls in the first round to vote for any of the officially declared candidates, and then vote again two weeks later for one of the two highest-scoring candidates from the first round.

Current polling suggests that incumbent president Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen will be the two second round candidates, in a re-run of the 2017 election.

However French elections are predictably only in their unpredictability and many of the largest parties have not yet decided on a candidate, while Macron himself is yet to confirm that he will run.

The regional elections held in June – the las time the French go to the polls before the presidential vote – were remarkable for record voter abstention, while Le Pen’s party did significantly worse than predicted and Macron’s failed to progress to the second round in several areas.

READ ALSO Granny-hugging to crowd-bathing – the essential vocab to understand French politics

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FRENCH POLITICS

Pro-Macron MP becomes France’s first woman speaker

France's lower house of parliament has agreed to pick an MP from President Emmanuel Macron's centrist coalition as the first woman speaker, despite the ruling alliance losing its majority in legislative elections.

Pro-Macron MP becomes France's first woman speaker

Yael Braun-Pivet, who had been serving as the minister for overseas territories, is the first woman to ever hold the post of speaker in the history of the Assemblée nationale.

Despite the loss of its overall majority, Macron’s ruling alliance still managed to push through her appointment in the second round of voting.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and other senior Macron backers have been trying to win over individual right-wing and moderate left parliamentarians to bolster their ranks.

Borne, appointed last month, is France’s second woman prime minister after the brief stint by Edith Cresson in the 1990s.

Olivier Marleix, head of the centre-right Les Républicains group seen as most compatible with Macron, met Borne on Tuesday. “We’ve told her again there is no question of any kind of coalition,” he said.

But he added that the prime minister “really showed that she wanted to listen to us. That’s quite a good sign.

“We’re here to try and find solutions,” he added. “There will be some draft laws where I think we should be able to work together,” including one to boost households’ purchasing power in the face of food and energy inflation.

“It’s not in the interest of parties who have just been elected” to make a long-term deal to support the government, said Marc Lazar, a professor at Paris’s Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po).

Borne under pressure

One key question will be whether Thursday’s vote to head the finance committee – with its extensive powers to scrutinise government spending – will be won by an MP from the far-right Rassemblement National (RN).

Led by Macron’s defeated presidential opponent Marine Le Pen, the RN would usually have a claim on the post as the largest single opposition party.

It faces a stiff challenge from the NUPES left alliance – encompassing Greens, Communists, Socialists and the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) – who agreed on Tuesday on a joint candidate after some internal jostling.

Next week could see exchanges heat up in the chamber, as government chief Borne delivers a speech setting out her policy priorities.

Macron told AFP at the weekend that he had “decided to confirm (his) confidence in Elisabeth Borne” and asked her to continue talks to find either allies for the government in parliament or at least backing for crucial confidence and budget votes.

The president has ruled out both tax increases and higher public borrowing in any compromise deals with other parties.

Even as the government projects business almost as usual, hard-left LFI especially has vowed to try to prevent key proposals, such as the flagship reform to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 65.

Party deputy chief Adrien Quatennens said on Sunday there was “no possible agreement” with Macron, saying cooperation would “make no sense”.

“We haven’t heard (Macron) move or back down one iota on pension reform” or other controversial policies, he added.

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