When is French election 2022 exit poll? Round 2 of presidential vote and latest polls for Le Pen and Macron

France is heading back to the polls to pick between centrist French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right contender Marine Le Pen.

Macron emerged from the first round of voting on 10 April with 27.85 per cent of vote, ahead of Le Pen with 23.15 per cent.

Under the French system, if no single candidate gains an absolute majority of the vote on the first round, a second round is held two weeks later to decide between the two leading candidates.

Under French election rules, neither candidate will be allowed to give interviews, distribute flyers or hold campaign events until 6pm UK time on Sunday, when initial estimates of results start coming in.

Here’s what you need to know.

When is round two of the presidential vote, and when is the exit poll?

Polls opened on Sunday (24 April) to decide the winner of the second round.

An exit poll is expected on Sunday at 7pm UK time. The official results will be published the next day.

Initial reports suggest that turnout is down on 2017, with a number of left-wing voters indicating before polling day that they will refuse to vote for either candidate.

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What are the latest polls saying?

Analysts say abstention rates could reach 25 to 30 per cent, in particular among left-wing voters unhappy with Macron’s pro-business agenda and plans to push back the retirement age to 65 from 62.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who scored a close third-place finish in the first round on April 10, has pointedly refused to urge his millions of followers to block Le Pen by voting for the former investment banker.

Spring school vacations will also be in full swing across much of the country this weekend, increasing the chances that many voters won’t cast ballots, adding a wildcard to the final outcome.

A highly anticipated TV debate between the two rivals on Wednesday did not appear to change their momentum in the polls, with most showing intentions to vote for Macron at 53 to 56 per cent against 44 to 47 for Le Pen.

The two rivals clashed bitterly, with Macron saying that Le Pen’s plan to ban Muslim women in France from wearing headscarves in public would trigger “civil war” in the country, which has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe.

The latest predictions would be a closer result than in 2017, when the same candidates faced off, but Macron carried the day with 66 per cent to 34 per cent, a sign for analysts that Le Pen’s efforts to soften and “de-demonise” her party’s image have paid off among a large part of the electorate.

If he wins, Macron would be the first French president to win re-election since Jacques Chirac in 2002, when Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, rocked the political establishment by reaching the second-round run-off.

Additional reporting by AFP

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