French presidential election: First round final results and campaign latest

The final official result is now in, showing a close race among the top three candidates with Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen going forward to the second round of the French presidential elections.

French presidential election: First round final results and campaign latest
Screens in Toulouse displaying TV shows showing the projected results after the close of polling stations in the first round of the French presidential election. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

The preliminary results, released at 8pm on Sunday, accurately placed Macron at the head of the polls, followed by Le Pen.

But on Monday afternoon with all votes counted, the official total from the Interior Ministry confirmed their scores – Macron on 27.84 percent and Le Pen on 23.15 percent.

In a close third – closer than many polls had predicted but not close enough to keep Le Pen out of the second round – was the hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 21.95.

Lying in fourth was extreme right hopeful Eric Zemmour on 7.07 percent.

The above candidates, scoring more than five percent of the vote, will be able to claim back half their campaign expenses from the State.

However the remaining candidates – including the traditional parties of the centre-left and centre-right, plus the Greens – all scored less than five percent and now face a hefty bill. 

Valérie Pécresse of the centre-right Les Républicains on Monday launched a fundraising bid, saying she is personally liable for €5 million of campaign expenses. 

The full scores were;

  • Macron 27.84 percent
  • Le Pen 23.15
  • Mélenchon 21.95
  • Zemmour 7.07
  • Pécresse 4.78
  • Jadot 4.63
  • Lassalle 3.13
  • Roussel 2.28
  • Dupont-Aignan 2.06
  • Hidalgo 1.75
  • Poutou 0.77
  • Arthaud 0.56

The final, official total from the Interior Ministry was unusually late – not released until 1pm on Monday despite 97 percent of votes having been counted by 3am.

An Interior Ministry spokesman told Le Parisien that the missing votes were largely made up of French citizens who had voted abroad.

The definitive total cannot be released until all votes have been counted and totalled.

READ ALSO Macron v Le Pen – what next?

Macron and Le Pen now have two weeks of campaigning before the French go back to the polls on April 24th and pick one of them to be the next president – early opinion polls show a very close contest in the second round.

Macron was due to travel to Denain in northern France on Monday – one of the poorest towns in the country and deep in Le Pen’s traditional heartlands in the north east.

After running a muted campaign so far, Macron has a busier schedule of campaign events planned this week, including trips to Strasbourg and Le Havre this week and a campaign rally in Marseille planned.

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.