Parliamentary Elections

April 10, 2022 (first round), April 24, 2022 (second round)



  • Strong presidential system within the Fifth Republic (established in 1958); the President names the Prime Minister and Cabinet, signs laws, is Commander-in-Chief, and plays a driving role on foreign policy.
  • Directly elected for 5 years, typically in a two-round election (unless a candidate receives 50% of the vote in the first round, which has never happened under the Fifth Republic); top two candidates enter head-to-head contest in second round.
  • Incumbent: President Emmanuel Macron (La République En Marche!), elected in 2017.


  • 12 candidates
  • Main contenders:
    • Emmanuel Macron (La RépubliqueEn Marche!): centrist; free market, has implemented important reforms of the labor market; socially liberal; pro-EU; pro-NATO.
    • Marine Le Pen (Rassemblement National): far-right; nationalist; economic populist; socially conservative; anti-immigration; anti-EU; advocates withdrawal from NATO military command. Campaign has been focused on finding solutions for French low income voters.
    • Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains): right-wing; fiscal conservative; socially conservative; increasingly anti-immigration stance; pro-European, but not federalist; pro-NATO.
    • Jean-Luc Mélenchon (France Insoumise): far-left; supports increased public spending; socially liberal; Euroskeptic; advocates withdrawal from NATO military command.
    • Eric Zemmour Reconquest (Reconquête!): leader of newly founded party, well-known commentator; far-right; populist; socially conservative; anti-immigration, Islamophobia; anti-EU; advocates withdrawal from NATO military command.
    • Yannick Jadot (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts): green party; economic focus on climate transition; socially progressive; pro-EU; pro-NATO.
    • Fabien Roussel (Parti Communiste Français): communist; supports radical labor market reforms; advocates a more flexible EU model; advocates for withdrawal from NATO.
    • Anne Hidalgo (Parti socialiste): center-left mayor of Paris (since 2014); economically liberal; socially progressive; prominent environmental platform; pro-EU; pro-NATO.

Impact on U.S. Interests

  • The U.S. is the largest non-EU foreign investor in France; bilateral trade in goods reached $80 billion in 2021, French companies supported close to 720,000 U.S. jobs in 2020, and the U.S. exported $27 billion worth of goods to France in 2020.
  • France is one of the founding countries of NATO and is the third largest contributor to its military and civil budgets; historically, France was the first ally to the United States and this strong bond remains through bilateral military cooperation in several fields.
  • France is a founding member of the European Union and a driver of policy change in Europe; a shift to a Euroskeptic or anti-NATO presidency would deeply affect the relationship.
  • France is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and currently a strong voice for multilateralism globally (for example within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the G20, the G7, or the World Trade Organization).

Key Issues to Watch

  • The war in Ukraine has largely affected the public debate leading up to the elections and placed far-right supporters of Vladimir Putin's in a difficult position. Macron has been diplomatically active to advocate for Ukraine and more largely for Europe; Le Pen had included a photograph of her shaking hands with Putin in her campaign materials, stirring debate in the press. Zemmour condemned the Russian invasion after having expressed support for Putin for years.
  • Following the trend set in 2017, the French political landscape has continued to fragment and polarize. Traditional political parties (Les Républicains and the Socialist Party) have received low numbers in polling, while both the far-right (National Rally, Reconquest) and far-left (Unsubmissive France) parties are outperforming and will most likely be a part of the second round of elections.
    • The impact of Eric Zemmour’s candidature on the French far-right has been important, including effects on support for Le Pen. After being ahead of Le Pen in the polls and a potential contender for the second turn, Zemmour is now in fourth position in several polls, likely due in part to his divisive and polemical rhetoric.
    • Early on, Pecrésse was seen as a credible opponent to Macron and potentially France’s first female President. However, after some missteps in her campaign and, importantly, an intentional shift to far-right rhetoric to compete for those votes, she has dropped in the polls.
    • Despite calls to rally together, the French left has been unable to unite under one candidacy, causing rifts in the Socialist party and decreasing odds for all left-wing candidates.
  • A reform of the pension system was already proposed in 2020 but was paused because of the covid-19 pandemic and public uproar on this sensitive issue. Macron and Pécresse have suggested raising the retirement age to 65 years (from 62 years), while Mélenchon wants to lower it to 60 years.
  • Macron is leading considerably in polls for both the first and second rounds but the margins with other candidates have decreased. His approval rating has risen to 40%, an increase of 8 points in two months (former President François Hollande's approval rating was 18% at the end of his mandate).
  • The European Union and France's role within it remain an important debate in the campaign, reasserting the French public's divided stance on membership and powersharing with Brussels.


First Round Polling

Data source: Ipsos.

Second Round Head-to-Head

Data source: Ipsos. Macron-Zemmour and Macron-Pecresse run-offs from March data, Macron-Le Pen and Macron-Melenchon run-offs from April da