Le Pen vs Macron: Everything You Need to Know About France's Presidential Election Today

Who are the candidates, what are their chances, and what does the weather have to do with all this

A voter prepares to cast his vote in a ballot box at a polling station during the second round of the presidential election in Henin Beaumont, France, on May 7, 2017.
Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

Who are the candidates?

The candidates are the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and the head of the far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen.

When will the results be in?

Polling agency projections and initial official results will be available when the final stations close at 8 P.M. local time

Who is eligible to vote?

Some 47 million people can cast their ballot in the presidential election. Voting stations opened across mainland France at 8 A.M. under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against extremist attacks

What's at stake?

Sunday's election will determine the future not only of France but of the European Union as a whole. Macron's first five measures as president, according to his own pledge, will be to loosen labor laws, decrease corporate taxes, repeal the shortened, 35-hour work week in all fields, raise personal income tax for the higher brackets and stiffen the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits.

If the French elect the leader of the extreme right, Marine Le Pen, the world's currency markets will roil as early as Monday morning. The first five steps Le Pen has promised to take if elected president are the immediate closure of the country's borders and the deportation of unauthorized immigrants; the immediate restoration of the French franc as a national currency and the publication of a timetable for prohibiting the use of the euro; the elimination of legal immigration and the suspension of all valid work visas; lowering the retirement age to 60 for both sexes and withdrawing France from the border- and passport-free Schengen zone.

Who is set to win?

The latest polls predict a clear victory for Macron – with 62 percent of the vote to Le Pen's 38 percent – after the gap in his favor increased significantly following the televised debate between the two.

But the pollsters warn that what voters say and what voters do are two different things. The key to Le Pen's possible victory is low voter turnout. According to some assessments, if abstention levels cross 30 percent, and at least 90 percent of those who said they would vote for Le Pen actually do so, while only 70 percent of those who said they would vote Macron do so, Le Pen can carry the vote.

What's the weather got to do with it?

Turnout in the second round of French presidential elections are historically high, roughly 80 percent. But this election falls on a long weekend due to Victory Day and bad weather is further expected with heavy rains forecast over Macron strongholds (Paris and Western France) and glorious sunshine over areas considered favorable to Le Pen (the Alps and the Riviera).

Bonne chance!

France votes today: Get all latest updates

The Associated Press contributed to this report.