Round two of the French presidential elections 2022 takes place this Sunday.
Incumbent President Emmanuel Macron is seeking to repel the threat coming from the far right, spearheaded once again by the resurgent Marine Le Pen.
Elections of this nature are never fought with the gloves on, but this year's French elections have seen divisions over France's response to Covid-19, Islamic terrorism and — above all other considerations — economic inequality.
The National has already explained the timetable for the French presidential election polls and how they work.
The 12 French presidential elections were whittled down to two on April 10 when centrist Mr Macron took the lead with 27.6 per cent of the vote, while Ms Le Pen was second with 23.4 per cent — setting up a rematch of the run-off in 2017, which the current president won by a landslide.
Here, their chances of success are evaluated.
Name: Emmanuel Macron
Party: La Republique En Marche!
*Latest polling (aggregate): 55%
All the more remarkable was his centrist La Republique En Marche! party had only just been formed. Previously, Mr Macron had served as economy minister under Socialist president Francois Hollande.
This time round things are a lot closer, as The National columnist Colin Randall wrote after Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen clashed in a fiery debate on Wednesday.
"When the same candidates reached the second round decider in 2017 and took part in a similar debate, Mr Macron was the emphatic winner, his opponent seeming ill-prepared, weak on detail and at times incoherent. On Wednesday night, she was in markedly better form, irritated but unruffled as Mr Macron launched fierce attacks on a range of issues from French membership of the EU and her ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin to Islamism and the environment.
"Mr Macron, by contrast, showed occasional agitation, accusing Ms Le Pen of risking civil war with plans to outlaw the wearing of the veil in all public places, pursuing nationalist policies that would drag France out of the EU and offering no compelling evidence of being able to fund lavish spending and tax concessions intended to ease the cost-of-living crisis.
"As the confrontation began, new soundings put Mr Macron on 56.5 per cent of voting intentions. This would be 10 per cent down on his comfortable 2017 triumph but, even allowing for a margin of error, the likeliest outcome is that he will win a second term at the Elysee Palace."
Name: Marine Le Pen
Party: National Rally
*Latest polling (aggregate): 45%
That Emmanuel Macron's victory is no longer assured is a testament to Marine Le Pen's success in trying to sanitise the reputation of her far-right party. As part of this cleansing, its name was changed from the abrasive National Front to the softer National Rally.
The switch hasn't exactly been reflected in policies, with Ms Le Pen's favoured attack lines of limiting immigration and French nationalism at the forefront of her bid to be elected French president at the third time of asking.
She has also campaigned hard on the French economy, which is seen as the key issue for an electorate increasingly disillusioned by widening inequality and shrinking employment opportunities.
If she were president, Ms Le Pen said she would think twice about supplying Ukraine with weapons and would oppose energy sanctions against Moscow — for the sake of the Russian people.
She said she would pull France out of Nato’s military command, weakening the western military alliance’s united front amid the Russian war on Ukraine.