Emmanuel Macron (La République en marche) and Marine Le Pen (Rassemblement National) are set to face off in the second round of the presidential elections on April 24.
Mr Macron scored 27. 84% of votes during the first round on April 10, while Ms Le Pen received 23.15%.
Incumbent president Mr Macron has already served five years in power and is seeking to claim a second term in office – which, if he completes, would make him only the third ever French president to do so after François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac.
See Mr Macron’s full election pledges on his official website here (in French).
Far-right Ms Le Pen, meanwhile, is vying to become the first female president of France. She also got to the second round in the 2017 election but lost out to Mr Macron, who won with 66.1% of the vote.
See Ms Le Pen’s full election pledges on her official website here (in French).
Here we compare the two candidates’ programmes to better understand what France would look like under their respective leadership.
Macron: He wants to expand the system of State guarantors to help tenants to rent, although there is a lack of detail on this policy. He wants to enable cohabiting couples to declare their tax together, as if they were married or Pacs-ed. Continue to remove the taxe d’habitation. Reform housing benefit. Increase social housing building. 700,000 housing units are to be renovated.
Le Pen: Wants to bring in a “nationals as priority” system for social housing.
Macron: Wants to launch a major recruitment plan for nurses and care assistants.
Wants to recruit 50,000 nursing assistants in elderly-care homes by 2027.
Wants every child to have access to early detection of developmental problems (hyperactivity, dyslexia, obesity, etc.) and their own GP.
Wants more assistants to help GPs, and for GPs to have closer links to hospitals.
Le Pen: Wants to implement a €20billion emergency plan for health.
She wants to abolish Regional Health Agencies (Agences régionales de santé) and change how hospitals are managed.
She wants to create A&E units specifically for older people.
Energy and nuclear
Macron: Wants to increase nuclear power with the construction of six new generation nuclear plants, but also develop renewable energy sources in parallel, especially offshore wind farms (50 by 2050). Increase solar power production by a factor of 10. Make France a renewable energy centre. Invest in green hydrogen. Plant 140 million trees.
Le Pen: Wants to reduce VAT from 20% to 5.5% on energy products. Wants to stop investment in wind farm projects, promising savings of €5billion. She wants to “revive” nuclear power with six new EPR, and reopen the old station Fessenheim. Invest in hydrogen and hydroelectric power.
Macron: Wants to make RSA conditional on the number of hours worked. Wants to stop the TV licence fee (redevance télé in French), and introduce food cheques for people who need them. Wants to make it mandatory for any company issuing dividends to set up a profit-sharing scheme.
Wants to reduce social security contributions for the self-employed, equalling an income increase of around €550 per year for someone earning the equivalent of the minimum wage.
Le Pen: Wants to “improve spending power” (€150 to €200 per household) for nationals and restrict benefits to nationals only, and enable companies to increase wages by 10%. Privatise public media and remove the licence fee.
She wants to reduce the VAT from 20% to 5.5% on energy products (fuel, oil, gas and electricity).
Immigration and foreigners
Macron: Wants to restrict the conditions of access to residence permits, including making four-year-long titres de séjour conditional on “a French language test and an honest approach to work insertion.” Make visa granting reciprocal with the country of origin. Automatic expulsion for refused asylum applications.
Le Pen: Wants to dramatically reduce immigrations and “fight Islamicism”, and make wearing all Islamic head coverings (such as the hijab) illegal in public. She wants to abolish the droit du sol (meaning that children born in France to foreign parents automatically become French when they reach age 18) and tighten the rules on acquiring nationality by naturalisation. Wants to end easier access to French citizenship through marriage, and expel foreign individuals who have not worked in France for more than a year.
Crime and justice
Macron: Wants to hire 8,500 magistrates by 2027, reduce delays in sentencing, create 200 gendarmerie brigades and an "action force" in sensitive neighbourhoods. Spend 2% of GDP on the military. Innovation on anti-attack policies across land, sea, space and cyber (such as electromagnetic weapons, underwater drones, nanosatellites…).
Le Pen: Wants to remove any possibility of sentence reduction or adjustment for prisoners. Wants to double the number of magistrates, reintroduce minimum sentences for specific crimes, and increase the number of prison places to 85,000 in six years. Create 7,000 new police and gendarmerie jobs. Increase security and justice budget by €1.5billion per year. Bring the defence budget to €55billion by 2027 and recruit more in the army.
Macron: Introduce a carbon tax in Europe to avoid unfair competition. Make company leaders’ salaries dependent on respecting environmental and social objectives. Make the environmental impact of goods visible at the point of purchase. Reduce export of waste. Plant 140 million trees by the end of the decade.
Le Pen: Wants to invest in hydrogen power, and create a new government role to protect nature and animals. Put an organic agriculture plan in place over the next five years.
Macron: Reform the Schengen area as part of a project presented to European ministers of Interior. Bolster Frontex, the agency in charge of border control in the European Union. Mr Macron said he wanted to ensure “strategic autonomy” by increasing weaponry.
Le Pen: Negotiate the Schengen treaty to increase border control entry. Simplify procedure for members of the European Union. Wants to prevent any European law that contradicts French legislation. She no longer supports leaving both the European Union and the eurozone.
Macron: Wants to improve teacher training, increase their pay and ask them to work more hours. Make major reforms of professional lycées. Extend the “Pass culture” to improve access to cultural sites.
Le Pen: Wants to re-evaluate teachers’ salary grid, and introduce uniforms in primary and secondary schools. Wants to recruit more teachers in primary schools.
Farming and industry
Macron: Reduce taxes on production for industry and agriculture. Invest €30billion in cutting-edge and future-oriented industry.
Le Pen: Remove taxes for entrepreneurs under 30 for the first five years in business to avoid young people going abroad.
Macron: Wants to push the retirement age up from 62 to 65 and make retirement income at least €1,100 per month.
Le Pen: Wants to increase the minimum pension amount to €1,000 and pledges that there will be no increase of retirement age. Wants to create a pension scheme that allows those who started working before the age of 20 to leave with 40 years of service at the age of 60.
Wants to re-introduce the fiscal half portion for widows.
Inheritance and money
Macron: Wants to reform inheritance tax. Reduce certain taxes, pay social benefits at source.
Le Pen: Remove tax on inheritance related to property up to a limit of €300,000 and bring in a new inheritance tax on incomes. Remove inheritance tax for middle-class families. Introduce 0% interest loans for young couples. Allow parents and grandparents to give gifts of up to €100,000 per child every 10 years (as opposed to every 15 now).
Macron: Wants to offer long-term hiring plans for electric cars and aid for electric vehicles. Continue capping fuel price cost increases by 4% where possible. Possible review clause to allow some combustion vehicles past 2035.
Le Pen: Wants to drop peage costs by 15% by renationalising motorways. Wants to remove low-emission zones and the SUV tax, and add hybrid vehicles to the “clean vehicles” list.
Macron: Has described hunting as a “lifestyle” while lowering the cost of licence-ownership from €400 to €200. Has a good relationship with the hunting community and wants to improve safety while also backing the majority of recommendations from hunting union la Fédération nationale des chasseurs.
Le Pen: Against restrictions, and believes that it is not only hunters who should have to pay for damage caused by hunting activities. She has said: “I consider hunting to be one of France’s most ancestral traditions.”