By Nathan Bauchant, local correspondent, Eurasia Business News – April 10, 2022

View on the Alexander III brigde, in front of the “Hôtel des Invalides”, in the center of Paris. Polling offices opened early in the morning for the presidential race. Photo credits : Swann Collins.

Polling stations across France opened today at 8:00 AM (local time) and will close at 07:00 PM or 20:00 PM. Twelve candidates take part in the first round. Only three seem to have a real chance of reaching the second round: the patriot leader of the “Rassemblement National” Marine Le Pen, the far-left champion and head of the La France Insoumise” Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the current President Emmanuel Macron, who represents the liberal side.

48 million French citizens will have to choose today between current President Emmanuel Macron and one of his rivals.

The latest pre-election rating showed that Marine Le Pen has practically caught up with Emmanuel Macron, who has been leading for the last month. On Friday, the final day of the campaign and the release of the ratings, she had 25% (according to the Elabe Opinion poll), and he had 26%, which fits into a simple sampling error.

When asked about the results of the second round, voting citizens gave a similar answer about the two favorite candidates : 51% for the current president and 49% for Marine Le Pen. The French people, previously expecting the victory of Emmanuel Macron, now feel that the situation could change.

Numerous scandals of potential corruption and embezzlement by political allies of French president Emmanuel Macron have lowered the support amid citizens. President Macron is even attacked in the Alstom case, in which many accuse him of having given away the French champion of nuclear power turbines to the US giant General Electric, for a low price. The McKinsey scandal, revealed by an official investigation led by the French Senate in early March, have shown how the team of Emmanuel Macron has been using state funds since 2017 to buy low quality consulting services from McKinsey.

Candidates have been urging this week their supporters to come to the polls and vote so as not to “lose their fate out of hand,” but sociologists predict that today almost 40% of voters may ignore the opportunity presented to them. In recent years, French citizens have pretty much lost faith in politics and in the ability of their chosen ones to change anything.

However, only 70% of those who do show up have already made their choice of who they will vote for. The rest say they won’t decide until they’re behind a curtain in front of the cards with the names of the candidates. They will have to decide which one they will put in the envelope and send to the urn.

At noon, the participation rate in the first round of the presidential election stood at 25.48% in metropolitan France, according to figures from the French Ministry of the Interior. This is three points less than in 2017 – where participation was displayed at the same time at 28.54% – and than in 2012 (28.3%). On the other hand, it is four points higher than on April 21, 2002 at noon (21.39%), a record year for abstention in a first round of presidential elections.

Polling stations in small towns across France will close an hour earlier than in larger towns. At 08:20 PM in Paris, the names of two participants in the second round of elections, scheduled for April 24, will become known.

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