Candidates projected to be in top five in first round voting, in alphabetical order
François Fillon: right-wing Les Républicains (LR) candidate, 63. The candidate has been beaten and battered by a fake jobs scandal that saw him charged with diversion and misuse of public funds on Tuesday, only five weeks before the first round of voting. The scandal has caused the candidate to fall back to a distant third in the polls, although he was initially the presidential frontrunner, having won November’s right-wing primary with roughly 66 percent of the vote. His programme focuses largely on reducing the deficit, with one of his main proposals being to cut 500,000 civil servant jobs. Despite the fake jobs scandal, opinion polls have predicted he will come in third in the first round with some 19 percent of the vote.
Benoît Hamon: Socialist candidate, 49. He won the left-wing primary organised by the Socialist party in January, which ruled out former prime minister Manuel Valls’s presidential bid. The call for a universal basic income for everyone between the ages of 18 and 25 was central to his campaign. However, he recently modified his proposal, instead making it available only to those in this age group that earn 1.9 times the minimum wage or less. Some members of his own Socialist Party have accused him of being too far to the left of the party’s traditional platform, such as former Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë. Opinion polls have predicted he will receive some 13 percent of the vote in the first round.
Marine Le Pen: far-right National Front (FN) candidate, 48. The candidate has been the leader of the FN, which was founded by her father, since 2011. She has called for withdrawing France from the European Union, reverting the country’s currency back to the franc, and restricting immigration. She came in third in the first round of 2012’s presidential election with nearly 18 percent of the vote. She is now leading opinion polls, alongside Macron, and is projected to win 26 percent of the vote in April’s first round.
Emmanuel Macron: centrist candidate, 39, representing his own En Marche! Party, or Onwards! Unknown to the French public until 2014 when he became finance minister under President François Hollande, the candidate has been leading in opinion polls. He has never held elected office, and has presented himself as neither left nor right, but rather a candidate who transcends party lines. As a former banker, he is pro-business and pro-free trade. He has also called for a more unified European Union. He has been leading opinion polls alongside Le Pen, and is projected to receive 25 percent of the vote in the first round.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon: far-left candidate, 65, representing the party he founded, La France insoumise, or Rebellious France. He has mainly called for more renewable energy, renegotiating European Union (EU) treaties, and a more citizen-oriented “sixth republic”. He ran for president in 2012, coming in fourth in the first round with 11 percent of the vote. Opinion polls have predicted he will receive a similar percentage of the vote on 23 April.
Other candidates, in alphabetical order
Nathalie Arthaud: far-left candidate, 47, Lutte ouvrière party, or Workers’ struggle. Arthaud is a high school economics teacher and local official in the Lyon suburb of Vaulx-en-Velin. She ran for president in 2012, but only received 0.56 percent of the vote.
François Asselineau: far-right candidate, 59, representing his own Union populaire républicaine (UPR), or Popular republican union. Like Le Pen, Asselineau has called for withdrawing France from the EU, NATO and the euro zone.
Jacques Cheminade: candidate of his own Solidarity and Progress party, 75. He has defined his party’s platform as protectionist but also progressive, and he has promoted “social Catholicism” and Gaullist policies as well. Cheminade has run for president twice, in 1995 and 2012, receiving roughly 0.25 percent of the vote both times.
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: candidate of his own Debout la France party, or Stand up France, 56. The candidate has promoted a Eurosceptic platform, and has called for reinforcing France’s borders and its sovereignty in relation to the EU. He has also proposed reverting the country’s currency back to the franc. Although his party's Eurosceptic views are similar to those of the far-right FN, he has made an effort to distinguish the two due to the FN’s history of anti-Semitic comments, such as FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen's description of the Nazi gas chambers as “a mere detail of World War II”.
Jean Lassalle: centrist candidate, 61. Former shepherd from the Pyrenees, he went on a hunger strike for 39 days to protest the construction of a factory in the region. According to French press agency AFP, he walked across France for nine months.
Philippe Poitou: far-left candidate, 50, Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, or New anti-capitalist party. His slogan is “our lives, not their profits”. He worked in a car factory operated by Ford in south-western France, where he became a union activist and successfully fought to save more than 900 jobs in 2007.