Both candidates are now back in Paris from their northern constituencies, French media report.
Macron is based at the Elysée, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the capital and will later join his campaign team near the Eiffel Tower. Le Pen is at his campaign headquarters in western Paris.
Less than two hours from the first estimates of the result, here are some pictures that arrived from the agencies during the day:
If Macron wins, as polls have predicted so far, he will be the first French president since Jacques Chirac in 2002 to win a second term – and Chirac has been massively helped by his confrontation with Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, whom he defeated in a landslide.
In fact, only three of Macron’s predecessors to the presidency have been re-elected, and none succeeded while leading a parliamentary majority in the National Assembly. Charles de Gaulle was re-elected in 1965, but his first election in 1958 was by an electoral college.
France’s first socialist president, Francois Mitterrand, and Chirac were both re-elected, but they did so without having a majority in parliament, so they were largely uncritical about their record since they did not fully control the government. .
Whatever the outcome, Macron and Le Pen prepared their plans for the evening, both in Paris.
Win or lose, Macron will address his supporters on the Champ de Mars, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower – another Paris landmark, after the president opted to celebrate his 2017 victory in the courtyard of the Louvre.
The press is already starting to arrive, as France24’s Claire Paccalin reports:
If Le Pen wins, she plans to drive through the capital at the head of the 13 National Rally coaches who have carried her campaign across the country.
The procession will set off from the Pavillon d’Armenonville, a Belle Epoque-style venue in the Bois de Boulogne where the far-right leader’s campaign team will gather for the result, before passing through the Arc de Triomphe and three of the main squares of the capital. – Place de la Concorde, Place de la Bastille and Place de la République.
It is unclear if this will continue if she loses.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the radical left of La France Insoumise (La France insoumise), also voted earlier in the day.
Mélenchon finished close third to Le Pen in the first round a fortnight ago and is now focusing his attention on rallying the dispersed forces of the French left for the June legislative elections, as my colleague Kim Willsher explains in an article for The Observer today. :
Whoever wins the presidential election in France, one man is determined to marginalize him and restrict his powers.
Even before the result is known tomorrow, radical left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has established himself as a surprise kingmaker, called on voters to appoint him prime minister in June’s legislative elections.
Mélenchon, a staunch opponent of both Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, has promised that if successful, he will force whoever wins the keys to the Élysée tomorrow into an uncomfortable parliamentary “cohabitation” that will hamper their efforts to push through the reforms the left opposes.
You can read Kim’s full article here:
Both candidates cast ballots earlier in the day. Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, voted in his constituency in the seaside resort of Le Touquet around 1 p.m., showing their identity card and voter card like any other voter.
And Marine Le Pen voted in her constituency of Hénin-Beaumont in northern France, just south of Lille, shortly after 11 a.m.
The turnout at 5 p.m. was 63.2%, according to the Interior Ministry, 1.8% less than in the first round and 2.1% less than in the second round. five years old.
So far, it doesn’t look like the surge in abstentions some feared.
Although, as Mathieu Gallard of Ipsos pollsters points out, the projected abstention rate of 28% would be the lowest turnout for a presidential runoff since 1969.
A quick recap of how Macron and Le Pen reached this final round, what their respective platforms are, and how we can expect the evening to unfold.
The current president and his far-right rival finished first and second – out of 12 – in the first round of voting two weeks ago on April 10.
Macron won just under 9.8 million votes (27.85% of the votes cast) and Le Pen 8.13 million votes (23.15%). Radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon came third with 7.7 million votes, just 420,000 less than Le Pen. Candidates from the mainstream right and left imploded, with Valérie Pécresse of the right-wing Republicans getting 4.7% and Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris who ran for the Socialist Party, getting just 1.7% .
Macron’s manifesto includes a fuel price cap, indexed pensions and a gradual increase in the retirement age to 65. He also campaigned for a stronger Europe.
Le Pen promised to lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for those who started working before the age of 20, reduce VAT on fuel and pass a new law of “preference national” which would give French nationals priority for housing, employment and social benefits.
Most polling stations close at 7 p.m. local time, and those in major cities and an hour later. The first estimates of the result are expected from several pollsters at 8 p.m.
These are not exit polls, but projections based on actual votes cast in a representative sample of polling places across the country, weighted by the magic of the pollster. They are usually very precise.
The abstention rate could be critical in this election, as could the number of voters who spoil their ballot.
The midday turnout was 26.41%, according to the Home Office – higher than the 25.48% turnout for the first round, but lower than midday in 2017 when it was 28, 23%.
But national turnout figures can mask strong regional variations, which could prove vital. So far, no significant pattern appears to have emerged that could favor either candidate.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the crucial second round of the French presidential elections to decide who will occupy the Élysée Palace in Paris for the next five years.
The high-stakes race pits incumbent centrist Emmanuel Macron against his challenger Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally – and its outcome could prove significant not just for the future of France but for Europe in its entirety. .
Polls since the testy televised debate of the two candidates on Wednesday have shown Macron’s score stable or rising between 55.5% and 57.5%, a lead of 10 to 14 points. But they also predict the lowest turnout for a presidential runoff since 1969, meaning a shock victory for Le Pen cannot be ruled out.
The race is in any case much tighter than when the two contenders met in 2017, partly reflecting Le Pen’s long and successful campaign to clean up his party and normalize his policies, and partly reflecting Macron’s perception among many. many voters, especially on the left, as “president of the rich”.
We’ll bring you news, commentary and analysis from me, Guardian Paris bureau chief Angelique Chrisafis and correspondent Kim Willsher, with generally accurate projections of the expected results when polls close at 8 p.m. , local hour.